Reminiscences was: A bit OT - Urban Myths?

Frank Shute frank at
Wed Jul 16 20:47:07 BST 2003

On Wed, Jul 16, 2003 at 02:51:15PM +0100, Matthew Seaman wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 16, 2003 at 02:20:23PM +0100, Frank Shute wrote:
> > > I think 1980 is a bit too early.  As I heard the story, the whole web
> > > concept was inspired by Scientists at CERN sending each other LaTeX
> > > documents, and using a NeXTSTEP program to view the formatted text.
> > IBM make/made a plugin for Netscape to view LaTeX: techexplorer but I
> > thought WWW was developed at CERN for shunting around and linking any
> > sort of documentation. ie. html and http were sort of developed
> > alongside each other.
> Yup.  I was mistaken.  It wasn't the concept of the WWW so much ---
> which goes back a lot longer than 1980, but rather TBL's
> implementation that was inspired by the LaTeX viewer.  The need for
> HTML however was more to do with getting away from the restrictive
> document formatting requirements CERN had at the time.
> Heh --- just think how much bandwidth would be saved if the LaTeX-ish
> style of markup \foobar{...} had been adopted, rather than the
> SGML-ish <foobar>...</foobar>.  Maybe it's all the programming in
> languages that use {} as delimiters for blocks of code, but I find
> that style a lot easier to read than a typical chunk of XML.

I find it a hell of a lot easier to write too; less verbose and less
confusingly cluttered which I think is what makes it easier to read

Despite having brace-matching on in my editor, I still tend to drop
end-braces all the time but I never seem to drop a > in html

I suppose: LaTeX easier for humans to parse and SGML easier for
computers. I did read somewhere why the LaTeX form of mark-up was
deprecated but I can't remember if that was it. Probably more of a
historical accident than anything, as these things tend to be.



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