If you read the discussion outlined in this extra HTML file, you realize that the W3C is adopting neither vision of DHTML as proposed by Microsoft or Netscape. The W3Cs documents and draft specifications, however, indicate that theyre leaning much more heavily in the direction of Microsoft than toward Netscape. Aside from an insistence on platform independence and language neutrality, a broader notion of events and error handling, and firm insistence on openness and standardization, the W3Cs vision coincides pretty nearly with that of Microsoft.
Does this mean that Microsoft has won? We think not, partly because the W3C has always had a broader vision of the Web than Microsoft. Microsoft's vision tends to say that all operating systems are equal; however, Microsoft treats Windows operating systems far more equally than any others, whereas the W3C actually tries to create a level playing field for all operating systems. Nevertheless, we see that Microsoft is deeply involved in the evolution and refinement of this technology, and we believe their efforts toward DHTML definitely bear close attention while the W3C builds its standards.
For what its worth, both Netscape and Microsoft swear they plan to adhere to all relevant standards, including those that will govern DHMTL, as soon as the W3C defines them. In the meanwhile, standards issues will probably stay somewhat chaotic and will definitely remain interesting.
We want to go out on a limb and make some predictions about where all this DHTML stuff may lead, starting with a short list of fairly likely outcomes. We follow that with some far out, but way cool, predictions that may ultimately have relevance only in our own twisted minds!
The following lists some of the most probable results that the W3Cs work on DHTML will produce for the Web:
Because of the way this approach to DHTML works, youll start seeing lots of dynamic buttons, hierarchical menus, navigation tools, and layered animation on a Web site near you!
Element positioning and rendering already falls under the Cascading Style Sheet specifications (CSS1 and CSS2) and will continue to do so.
The notation of choice for using the DOM appears to be the dot notation used to reference document elements and attributes and to query documents for information by element type, instance, and order of occurrence.
The trend is toward full dynamic HTML, which means that a documents content and element attributes can be changed at any time on the client side, once that information is available to the browser.
Less likely, but full of possibility, are the following capabilities that DHTML may deliver:
Document validation will become a standard requirement for all HTML, XML, and CSS documents, to make sure they can be fully dynamic and fit within the DOM.
Self-modifying forms, surveys, tests, and questionnaires will define basic mechanisms for users to supply data via the Web, and to add custom functionality to intranet Web servers.
Tools to manipulate style sheets and DTDs will emerge and become an integral part of the Web designers toolkit. This will increase power and flexibility of Web pages by an order of magnitude.
Visual scripting tools will become the rage, permitting designers to create interactive, script-driven Web pages the same way that tools like Symantec's Visual Café, Microsoft's Visual J++, or Boreland's Jbuilder make it possible to build Java applets today.
Web designers will pay a lot more attention to building pages that behave like applications, rather than trying to construct entire Web sites that behave like applications.
But before any of these predictions can take the test of time and subsequent events, an awful lot of work still needs doing. The draft specifications underway at the W3C have to work their way to consensus and become formal Recommendations or Specifications. Web browser developers have to take complete cognizance of all the functionality that the W3C designers demand (and suggest). And finally, we all have to learn to work within this new framework. It promises to be a real adventure!
Extra 3 Main Page | Previous Section
E-mail: HTML For Dummies
Webmaster: Natanya Pitts, LANWrights
Revised -- January 16, 1998