Navigation, services and interoperability
minutes from a session of the World Wide Web Working group
Chair: Victoria Burrill, Minutes: Eddy Boeve
Questions to CERN People
Because Francois Flukiger and Hakon Lie, both from CERN/Geneva, were only at the W4G workshop for
one day, the session started with questions for them, especially concerning the development of HTML 3.0
and the new browser for it, developed at CERN: Arena.
Participants then gave keywords to define their interests and and were on that basis divided into two groups. The
first group was interested in more technical oriented aspects; the second group in more user oriented
- Support for chemical formulae in HTML 3.0?
- Answer: not yet
- Support for in-line other datatypes?
- Answer: no, is more a browser problem.
- Non-scrollable area's in HTML documents?
- Answer: Maybe, the problem has been addressed.
- Are there connections with SGML community?
- Answer: Yes there is collaboration; SGML and HTML can be combined well.
- Support for page description languages?
- Answer: Yes, a style sheet model will be included.
- Attributes for data model description (REL and LINK tags, for printing document structures)?
- Answer: Maybe.
- Support for editing remote HTML pages?
- Answer: yes, the PUT request supported and already operational in new Arena browser.
- PC/MAC ports of Arena?
- Answer: Yes, after stabilisation of the UNIX/X version.
Integration and searching group
Chair: David DeRoure??, Minutes: David DeRoure??
This is to be filled in by whom??
- Hytime; external link info; interoperability; dynamic documents; integration;
scripts; extensibility; programming; SGML as protocol
- Highlevel search engines; meta-information; automatic indexing
Applications, tools and usability Group
Chair: Victoria Burrill, Minutes: Eddy Boeve
Attendants: Victoria Burrill (RAL); Oreste Signore (CNR-CNUCE);Vincent Quint (INRIA); Corné van
Delft (De Digitale Stad), Michael van Eeden (De Digitale Stad); Michael van Wetering (Rotterdam School
of Management); Koos van der Hout (Hogeschool van Utrecht); Hans Eriksson (SICS); ????; Eddy Boeve
The result of the discussion in this group on usability aspects of the WWW was a kind of ‘wish list’ for
both readers and authors on the Web, and where possible some hints for implementing them.
- Business and education, information kiosks, video conferencing, publishing, writing process
- Graphical browsers, Web visualisation, editors and browsers, developing tools
Interactivity; design, navigation, interactivity paradigms, user-interfaces, page design
Editors and browsers
What browsers do we use?
Most people in this group used Netscape and Mosaic as their everyday browsers, both
for checking the authoring result as for normal reading. Some of them used all available browsers (including
MacWeb, Cello, and Lynx) to check the result of writing HTML pages. They did this because they didn’t know on
beforehand what kind of browser their users were using.
Because most participants often used different platforms and browsers for accessing the Web, one of
the most heard wish was a portable hotlist and history mechanism, preferably in the
HTML language (as Netscape already implemented) and a portable structure.
Editing the hotlist
Most participants were not satisfied with the poor editing facilities of hotlists. What they really needed
In fact, the hotlist can be seen as one possibele view on the history list: only previously visited items that are
of interest for the reader are marked as ‘in the hotlist’. This has another advantage: it’s easy to find the
originating page of an entry in the hotlist.
- Keywords for searching (either provided by the author or the reader);
- Hierarchy (something like a file system hierarchie);
- Support for adding comments to hotlist items;
- Spatial layout of hotlist on screen using icons;
- Integrated editing of documents and hotlists;
- Support for cooperative hotlists (such as merging your hotlist with other collegues).
Some participants used the Web only for public information retrieval and were inexperienced users. For that
reason they were interested in simplified user-interfaces having only the most essential controls (e.g.
navigation buttons), also refered to as ‘kiosk mode’.
Editing HTML pages
There was a strong need amongst authors for support in editing the HTML pages directly at the server side.
With a WYSIWIG viewer that integrated editing and browsing.
Most problems related to navigation were not typical Web problems, but ‘normal’ multi-media and
hypertext navigation problems and the Web community stronly suggested looking at the results obtained in
this area already. Some of the more Web related navigation topics were:
HTML navigation support
A common problem with navigation was the lack of support in HTML for navigation, e.g. construct for
specifying ‘where you came from’, in case there are more than one way you can reach that page from the
HTML document structure.
A less stronger facility than the hotlist way of marking interesting places on the Web was looked for:
‘warm lists’. Users can then return, within one session, to these places.
Instead of following links, participants would like ‘pop-up’ interaction for glossary type funcionality or
other short explanations (comparible with the MS Windows .help mechanism).
All participants desperately needed style sheets (as Hakon Lie addressed in his key-note talk): the
separation of logical structure (contents) and the style (markup) of HTML documents.
Need for more logical styles than available now. Although the introduction of style sheets makes it
possible to create new logical structures on the fly, for simple browsers and for automatic conversion and
parsing of HTML code, we still need a fixed set of predefined styles.
More markup facilities, e.g. the definition of the line width, in-line hardspaces, etc.
The wish list for images includes, among others:
Most of the images problems are related with limited bandwidth on the internet. A good solution would be a
further expansion of the ‘HEADER’ request for HTTP servers: ‘HTTP Ping’. HTTP Ping requests meta-
information about the document specified by some URL, including not only size and title, but also abstract,
keywords, the document structure, included images and size and quality of these images, included links,
other formats this documents is available in, etc. Browsers can implements ‘two-level clicks’ for following
links: the first one gives you the meta-information, the second one, if the reader is
still interested, gives the whole document or
parts of it. The transmission of the meta-information gives estimations on how long the transmission of the
document (with or without images) would take.
- support for structured (object-oriented, line art) images. Many of the existing bitmaps can be replaced
by these kind of graphics, reducing the image sizes considerably.
- specification of images quality at the browser/reader side
- specification of images quality at the server/designer side
Annotations were highly appreciated by all participants, preferably in some Usenet News format: stored
at some server (specified by some URL) and accessable by all readers on author, annotiation date, etc.
Options for what part of the document the annotation is refering to is needed. Of course, annotations are
described in HTML format.
Furthermore, constraints on the server side are needed for maintaining such annotation mechanism: When
do they expire? How many are stored? This all resembles the ‘annotation server’ idea already implemented
in the past.
Some general remarks on problems you can run into when publishing material on the Web:
- The need for a ‘time stamping mechanism’ for detecting out-of-date information in the HTML
- Security; Who in organisations are allowed to make changes to HTML pages?
- Do we allow user ‘home pages’ in official organisation HTML material, and how do you check that the
material added to is still confirming the organisation’s rules?
- Who is resposible for what is published on ‘non-official’ HTML pages?
- What about copyright for Web material?