Microsoft, Netscape agree on HTML

Microsoft has joined Internet rival Netscape Communications in proposing a standard for embedding local objects within Web pages without the need for Java or ActiveX calls to a Web server.

Microsoft has joined Internet rival Netscape Communications in proposing a standard for embedding local objects within Web pages without the need for Java or ActiveX calls to a Web server.

Microsoft submitted its HTML object model specification to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on September 16.

According to Jon Roskill, group product manager for the Internet platform and tools division at Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, the new specification will allow Web site developers to embed active content in Web pages without using ActiveX controls or Java applets. "Up until now, there has been no way to program HTML," Roskill says. "This spec would allow a developer to program a page that would have all the information available in a single download."

Roskill says that the HTML object specification Microsoft was proposing would complement Java applet and ActiveX control technology by giving developers an opportunity to do lightweight programming in HTML, saving on bandwidth and calls to the Web server.

"Now, you have to constantly make a round trip to the server," Roskill says. "With this, you could have all the information loaded in the page with a single download."

For example, Roskill says, if a Web page contained a table of contents of a book, the links from each chapter could go to an outline of the chapter of the book that would be embedded in the page.

"You wouldn't want to have the whole book embedded, because the first download would take too long," Roskill says.

The Microsoft proposal would be "language-neutral," allowing developers to program HTML in both VBScript and JavaScript.

Netscape offered a similar proposal several weeks ago, according to Jeff Treuhaft, director of security tools and platform at Mountain View, California-based Netscape. "We're submitting things to the W3C all the time," Treuhaft says. "We make it a point not to announce W3C submissions, since it isn't really part of the process."

However, Roskill says he didn't expect Microsoft and Netscape to clash over the proposal: "We don't expect much heated debate."

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