Tuesday, July 22, 1997 by Dave Winer.
A brief piece with a pointer and some points...
Dan Bricklin's new company Trellix has a product with the same name that's doing something new and bold. It's a net-aware outliner that supports linking but does not do HTML.
I have a one word comment: Bravo!
HTML is getting more complex and providing even less bang for the buck. Cascading style sheets, two flavors of dynamic HTML, it's not getting more beautiful, it's just getting more powerful.
HTML -- great training wheels for net-based information. We needed HTML to get the networking boom to go commercial. We still need HTML as the lowest common denominator, the format that everyone can read.
The HTML tools situation is dire. For a reason. Read on...
Wizzy is short-hand for WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get. Designers have been clamoring for wizzy HTML tools. The software industry tried to create them, PageMill, HomePage, FrontPage, but most professionally designed sites are done with text tools, BBEdit or Notepad.
We could have saved a lot of time because it's not possible to do a wizzy tool for HTML because HTML is not wizzy. It's not what you see is what you get. It's what you see has little to do with what they see.
Can we move beyond HTML? Yes!
A few months ago I had a flash. Instead of telling the designers we can't do wizzy tools, let's find a way to do them. The answer was simple, we need a new display format that is wizzy. It's not rocket science. A draw program or page layout model would be great for webbed information. A browser built around Shockwave would be great too.
I don't dig plug-ins. I see more room for improvement in the infrastructure of webbed information. More powerful client-side persistent storage. Better scripting and debugging tools. Stronger connections to content development systems.
I've been investigating ways for my company, UserLand Software, to participate in this part of the market, so I have an interest in new ways to browse.
I think there should be 100 different ways to browse networked information. Trellix has gone first. More innovation in networked information is the right road. TCP programming caught the commercial software industry by surprise. Now three years after the boom started, ambitious developers are ready to blaze new trails. I encourage others to take a close look at Trellix. I plan to.
Dan is a friend. We worked together in the early 80s at Personal Software. I was doing a product for them called VisiText which never shipped (it became ThinkTank) and Dan was doing VisiCalc along with Bob Frankston and a group of very talented people. Take Dan seriously. He's got a deep creative imagination and he's driven! He taught me a lot back then, and I expect we'll have fun again this time around.
PS: I'm meeting this evening with Bricklin for a demo and a talk.
PPS: Linking is very hot. It's the central concept of networked information. All future formats have to support linking or they won't be interesting.