trip report from the sixth World Wide Web conference in santa clara, CA, USA
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this is neither an official document in any respect nor should any statement be taken as a fact, this is just my personal opinion. reto ambühler, computing services of the ETH zürich
WWW6 certainly was worth the trip ! in my opinion, santa clara was the perfect place for such an event - maybe brisbane, australia, where the next conference is to be held, may proof to be an even better place ... if i will be able to attend at all.
the organization was ok, but maybe not as good as the last time. the printed program of WWW5 held in april 1996 in paris was more handy and gave a better overview of the sessions running in parallel. however, ICE - the Interactive Computing Environment - was nice, even thought it produced quite bad HTML code. if you analyze my personal page produced by ICE, you will notice lots of inconsistences with the current HTML specifications. the PCs and MACs for Internet access functioned well and access to europe was striking fast. sometimes, pages from switzerland popped up faster than at the ETH !
the tutorials where interesting, particularly the information about ActiveX was very helpful to me. the plenary sessions were interesting and mostly entertaining too. this is particularly true for the speech of mister bob metcalfe during the closing session, but also for those of miss dr. mae jemison (a former space shuttle astronaut) during the opening session and mister raj reddy, who presented his vision of a universal library.
from tuesday to thursday, i mostly followed the sessions provided by the World Wide Web consortium (W3C) with a very few exceptions. i learned about the W3C activities, what had been achieved during the last 12 months and what we might expect in the near future. the most important activities are the recommendations for a new version of the HyperText Transfer Protocol - HTTP V1.1 - and XML, the eXtensible Markup Language, an alternative to the existing HTML. HTTP V1.1 provides up to 8 times faster access to Web documents. with XML, authors can define their own tags and attributes and it provides much better separation between presentation and content in Web documents. the specifications for the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS V1.0) - also a means to provide better separation between content and presentation - have been finalized.
Microsoft gave a quite spectacular presentation of some of the new features of the Internet Explorer V4.0, which is now freely available on the Internet as a "developer's release". it will fully support CSS, "dynamic HTML" (based on the Document Object Model (DOM)) and XML. the DOM basically defines an API to define actions on objects in a Web document. this provides new means to create interactive documents.
the last day was not only the traditional developer's day, but it also offered a stream called Web history day. in the morning, tim berners-lee talked about his vision of the Web, what had become true, what had changed over the years and what still has to be done. there was also a very interesting talk of mark pesce about VRML V2.0 and one by james pitkow who presented a lot of statistical information about Web usage. the day ended with a panel called "past and future visions" featuring tim berners-lee, douglas engelbart and other inventors.
there is no way to load that page into HoTMetaL Pro and there is probably no HTML parser in the world that would accept this page as a valid HTML document. i would expect much better HTML code from a World Wide Web conference !
this trip report was written on a notebook running Windows 95 with HoTMetaL Pro V3.0 from SoftQuad and is supposed to be HTML V3.2 compliant.