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Re: experts

Simon I wholeheartedly agree.

If we gave Web developers a seat at the table, and listened to them, we'd
have a much more useful Web.

Here's one example. A few years back I asked for an <include> element in

A trivial thing to implement, it would have allowed the same kind of
inclusion you get with <img> for arbitrary HTML text snippets.

If done without limits, you could have gotten the same kind of
form-separation from content that XSLT provides, or templating systems such
as we implemented (eventually) with Manila. Very low-tech and easy to
explain to HTML developers.

I made the request publicly several times. Lots of pushback, lots of reasons
it couldn't work, and then a few years later a veritable explosion using
Javascript to create the same effect, but with serious performance problems
that could have been alleviated (I think) by putting a height and width
attribute on the never-implemented <include> tag. Everyone is doing
inclusion like this now, it's a complete hack and a serious performance hit
for the user. Too bad it didn't make it into HTML.

Experts tend to conceive earthquakes when tweaks would do much more for us.
I saw this bug when I asked Microsoft for a feature in an early version of
MS-DOS, they said that's coming in OS/2, just wait. Oooops. Could have saved
a few years by adding the feature to MS-DOS. (It's in Windows, btw, I asked
for a clipboard for exchanging data betw apps, we were working on TSRs and
had to hack to get data to move between apps. We need a formalization from
the OS so we could all work together.)

You know we have a group of pragmatic Web developers ready to review our
ideas, we just have to invite them in. It's called WSP, the Web Standards
Process. I'd show something to Jeffrey Zeldman and if he gets it, I'd say
it's a good thing to do. If he jumps up and down I'd do it immediately.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
To: <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 5:39 PM
Subject: experts

> I'm pondering the term 'invited expert' and what it really means.
> Do we really want a Web designed by experts?
> Think about this for a while.
> Most programmers aren't really experts.  Most systems architects aren't
> really experts.  They're qualified (we hope) to do their jobs, but they
> won't necessarily do them in the most elegant or efficient way, and only
> spend time on optimization when it's clear there is a return on the
> investment.  Most programs are ho-hum efficient - enough to keep users and
> customers from complaining.
> When experts design systems, they know that they can go the extra mile for
> optimization, take advantage of the options provided, and reuse
> technologies in ways that go beyond the expectations of their
> creators.  That's what these folks do, all the time.
> I'd like to think that experts would design systems built for ordinary
> developers - technologies that are already optimized, which provide
> answers to complex problems without requiring developers to think too hard
> on the possibilities.
> Instead, I'd argue that most of what we've seen in markup - with two
> exceptions, one more glaring than the next - is design by experts for
> experts.  Options and features are important, so there are lots of
> them.  Experts can figure them out, so everyone else must be able to as
> well.  Only experts can really understand their interior details, so only
> experts should contribute.
> The two glaring exceptions are XML and HTML.  XML was a deliberate
> stripping away of features beloved by power users and experts, though I'd
> suggest it didn't go nearly far enough.  HTML, of course, was designed by
> an amateur.
> [Some experts, working in smaller groups, can break out with cleaner and
> simpler systems -I'd suggest that RELAX and TREX went this way.  It is
> possible, just not especially likely when experts are typically gathered
> into committees.]
> Maybe it's time for experts to let users figure out what they need.
> Simon St.Laurent - Associate Editor, O'Reilly and Associates
> XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
> XHTML: Migrating Toward XML
> http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books
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