Alternatives to the W3C

Elliotte Rusty Harold elharo at
Thu Jan 20 19:09:07 GMT 2000

At 4:05 PM +0000 1/20/00, Steven Livingstone, ITS, SENM wrote:
>I develop weblications. I don't develop for the latest innovations just
>because I want to be on the cutting edge. It is practical.
>I am just out of a 2 hour meeting where we tried to follow in our previous
>project *exactly* what you have been suggesting. They want these menu's to
>ease navigation, they want different page looks depending on who they are,
>they want help when they press F1 etc etc etc... This is more than 2000
>people saying this.
>In our case, the front-end clearly *is* critical - what they want
>(window-like in MS windows or X-Windows interfaces like they had in
>client-server) can only be done using the latest technologies.

Is that really what they want? Somehow I doubt it. I have this funny 
feeling that what they want to do is browse a database, or have 
customers place orders, or play games, or something else that's an 
end in itself. I find it hard to believe that the front-end is really 
the mission critical part of an app. It sounds like the client has 
strong ideas of what front end they want, but I doubt that's the app.

If this is an Intranet, you might be able to pull off what you 
suggest. If it's the public Web, then it's hopeless. Tell your client 
that they will piss off and lose customers if they do this UNLESS 
they provide a seamless alternative to the underlying functionality.

FileMaker Pro does a pretty good job of something like this. If you 
connect to a FileMaker database using IE5, you'll get a very fancy 
site that uses DHTML heavily to reproduce the exact look and feel of 
the underlying database. If you connect with Netscape, you'll get a 
less snazzy but still completely functional table and form based 
page. There's no extra work for the user or the publisher here. Of 
course I suspect the people who programmed FileMaker had to work very 
hard to make it this easy.

| Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo at | Writer/Programmer |
|                  The XML Bible (IDG Books, 1999)                   |
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