Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

HTML support in Mac OS?

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:5/8/1999; 7:37:47 AM
Topic:HTML support in Mac OS?
Msg #:5833
Prev/Next:5832 / 5834

On Windows it's very simple to pass a bit of HTML off to the OS, it displays it in a modal window, and the JavaScript code running in the page can leave around the result so the calling application can find out what the user clicked on and what the state of various HTML controls are. I don't know all the details, Brent is working on the code, but at a conceptual level, this is what's going on.

We're also making it so that HTML displays on the background of the MDI window that contains all other Frontier windows. This has the nice-but-spooky effect of a web browser that has editors that pop up in front of the HTML display. This is not Frontier anymore, it's something else (but inside it *is* just Frontier, you'd recognize it in an instant). In this mode, of course, the "page" displays the current rendering of the text the writer is writing. So you have instant and seamless preview. It's easy and the power is right there in front of your face. Key point, it feels seamless.

Now, on the Mac, this last feature won't make sense, because there is no MDI window. And we don't need HTML controls to do UIs, as I rediscovered yesterday, we have a great way of doing custom dialogs on the Mac.. MacBird.

However, especially since WWDC is coming up this week, and some of you are going, I would be remiss if I didn't point out the disparity. Apple needs to hear that they're falling behind in an important area. I don't think they know. The Mac OS should be doing what Windows is doing here. It would make HTML tools more useful, and as we know, HTML is the fuel we're burning now, the air we're breathing.

This is one of the reasons I find Apple's focus on OSX frustrating. It's the same old thing, missing out on the action now looking to the future. The future plans have a way of evaporating. The Mac platform has been doing this since 1989 or so. I remember sitting in the audience at that WWDC hearing from Charlie Oppenheimer that we should wait for System 7 to ship before we shipped new products. Those words echoed around the Mac community, freezing shipments, and they never really unfroze. As soon as System 7 shipped, the real cool stuff was going to run in Pink, then OpenDoc. Hey it actually goes back before that, in 1986 Apple said that HyperCard was the way of the future. Nowadays it's OSX.

Right now what I, as a developer, want to see, is HTML integration in Mac OS.

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