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Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 27, 2000. Thursday, April 27, 2000

News.Com: "IBM's support means that SOAP will be a real factor in interoperability between different programming models."

Now that SOAP v1.1 is out, I want to start thinking about NGWS, which is Microsoft's vision for the Two-Way Web. As far as I know, they're going alone at this level. This may create an opportunity for the rest of the industry to agree on a way of integrating tools with the web that is multi-vendor on both the workstation and the server side. I see this is as an opportunity on the scale of the opportunity for hardware vendors in the late 80s when IBM went their own way with the PS/2 and OS/2. Microsoft certainly has the option of embracing the interface we've put out. There's a multi-step leapfrog thing going on here. I only have my own point of view. Lots of details missing in that view. (I have not signed a Microsoft NDA.)

Angus Glashier posted a screen shot of him editing his site in Pike. He says "outliners aren't the most intuitive writing interface, and UserLand's implementation feels a little odd compared to the text editors I'm used to. Still, the ability to remain in the editor while saving updates back to the site is damn useful, and the ability to structure text is ultimately worth while."

Angus, this points out the need for competition. We make outliners at UserLand. It's a very specific kind of writing tool, it's perfect for template design, presentations and scripting. The ability to edit in sections and easily move the sections around is key for me as a weblog writer. But we know it's not a mainstream writing style, and that a great simple wizzy HTML editor will be incredibly valuable here. (I could see wanting to use a spreadsheet on certain Manila pages and sites.)

CamWorld: Four Men in Hats Brain Teaser.

MacInTouch report on MS Office 2001/Mac.

WSJ: Pentagon cracks down on PowerPoint. "Just as word processing made it easier to produce long, meandering memos, the spread of PowerPoint has unleashed a blizzard of jazzy but often incoherent visuals."

Andrew Wooldridge of Netscape came over for a meeting to talk about menus and XML and sidebars and other juicy stuff, and on his way out I asked him to pose with the servers. His hand is resting on Subhonker1, the machine that hosts all his sites (and yours too if you're on EditThisPage.Com).

Andrew told us about a JavaScript outliner he's working on that plugs into Manila through XML-RPC. I went over to the whiteboard and revised the XML vision to include his outliner in addition to ours.

NY Times: "The joint state-federal plan calls for breaking Microsoft roughly in half. One-half would be the operating-system company, the other would hold everything else, including Microsoft's applications software, such as the word processor Word and the spreadsheet program Excel, and the Internet properties."

What will this do to increase competitiveness in web browser software? Another question. If Microsoft didn't own Word, would their web browser be a better text editor by now? This came up in our discussion with Lance yesterday (see below). Word has a limited ability to save to the Web. What if there were a company that only did web browsers? What if that company had retained its sanity and focused on giving users and developers what they wanted? The race started six years ago. Where would we be now? Imho, that's the question the attorneys should be asking. How can we get this very vital software category moving again?

Another opinion. It's easier to compete with Microsoft as it's currently configured. A breakup would throw the industry into massive confusion for years to come, possibly a generation. This is not something to do casually, without a lot of thought.

Survey: "How do you feel about this proposal as it relates to the Worldwide Web?"

Nick Sweeney: "People have said that there's a difference between open source, which is theoretically easy to modify but often impractical to do so, and and open architectures like Frontier, which may hide its source but bear its technical soul. It's about time that Windows became an open architecture. Transparently so."

Joel Spolsky: "Another thing users have trouble with is using the mouse. Even if they are adept mousers, using the mouse precisely can be difficult."

What the heck is going on here?

Two websites for the price of one.

Robert Brook found encoding schemas on, which is a Microsoft domain.

Yesterday I got a phone call from Dan Gillmor about this essaylet I wrote. The call came in the middle of the SOAP announcement, which I knew was coming, but I didn't know when. Dan was concerned that people would read the piece and conclude that he wrote about Conxion because we are friends and because I asked him to. Only Dan can say why he wrote about it, I can't read his mind, but I never in a million years thought he would do it because there's a friendship.

I'm still trying to understand how people who do what he does do their thing, how they define integrity is deeply interesting to me. I find myself repeatedly defending his integrity. How does he get me to do that? I changed the copy to suit him, but I still told the truth, and got back to the SOAP rollout.

Later I thought that Dan's definition of integrity as it relates to friendship is so vague to me, and might not be compatible with the culture of the Web, where reciprocal links are a way of life. If I point to someone repeatedly, I expect attention, in the form of links. If the links don't come, I tend not to link. Kind of like peering deals in the ISP world? I see a balance between Dan's site and mine, in fact, in this space, my site is bigger, there's more content, and more hits. In my value system, a pointer from me is worth more than a pointer from Dan. However, there's extra ooomph from a Dan-pointer, because some people place more value on it. Steve Ballmer, a super-busy guy, made time to have dinner with Dan. Conxion has an idea that the Merc is important. The Merc carries clout that my web writing doesn't. Where this comes from is somewhere in Dan's mind. He has a clue that I don't. So I guess I'm asking to be clued in. What is it about the Merc that gets people to listen?

Dan Gillmor posted his his thoughts on the DG. "Dave's right that this new medium raises all kinds of questions. It will be fun, and useful, to explore them as the medium grows." Thanks for working with me on this, we'll figure it out, it's so cool we can have this discussion in public.

Great penguin pics. Be sure to click through all the pages.

At 1PM we're meeting with people from, to talk about Manila hosting for Hollywood pros. That is going to be an interesting meeting! I sold lots of software in Hollywood in the 80s. Now those guys run the industry?

Lance Knobel was here last night. Got some pics. I asked how he liked spicy noodles. "Oh I like them very well." Lance is an American living in London. He mixes baseball metaphors with a lite Bweeteesh accent.

BTW, when I demo'd my Klaus Schwab impression he said it sounded more Israeli than Swiss. I guess the glow fades.

We also talked about hooking our new outliner, Pike, up to Manila to do PowerPoint-like slide shows. We'll do this for sure. That'll make a big difference, imho, at the Pentagon, another place we sold a lot of Macs to in the 80s.

Lance runs WorldLink, Davos Newbies and numerous other Manila sites.

This belongs at the end of today's page. Yes, I noted that News.Com didn't mention UserLand, even as one of the supporters of SOAP, when we played a more significant role, a much more significant role, than many of the companies they did list. Sun made friendly sounds about SOAP in the story, a first, of course that's good. Net-net a happy day, I don't want to take away from that, but being written out of the story is not itself a happy thing. Thanks for listening.


Last update: Thursday, April 27, 2000 at 6:43 PM Eastern.

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