Wish List for the WEB


By Russell Hoffman

The World Wide Web is wonderful. However, most people can see areas where improvements can be made. Here are some things I wish for.

Better Remembering

It is unfortunate that browsers don't normally maintain a "played" list from session to session.

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Better Storage of Favorite Places

Your "Favorite Places" list should store not just URL's but the entire page if you like. It could update it but still SAVE THE LINK STATUS'S of the links on the page.

Automatically refresh your Favorite Places links

Your browser should let you know if a linked page has been updated since your most recent visit. It could do this by accessing all it's links occassionally (lets call it exercising it's links). Probably it should do this an hour or so after you log off and then every 24 hours or 7 days or whatever, but it should do it while you yourself are not online. (The assumptions are that shortly after you've logged off is the least likely time for you to log on again, and that you have a separate phone line...)

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Better Palettes

Nothing ruins good art more than bad color representation. It always amazes me when I look down the line of T.V.'s at the electronics stores, how different the colors are from one television set to another. The problem is even worse when using the WEB. The only reasonable choice is to standardize immediately on a 256-color palette and begin to expect 24 bit or 32 or maybe 36-bit color soon.

Also, with a full standard palette jaggies could be eliminated more easily.

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Better Animation Capabilities

Timing is everything, but of course the Web has no timing controls at all.

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Preferred Item Preread Capabilities

Timing is everything, and if the Web page author could specify the next-most-likely page to be used next by most viewers, the browser could download it while you look at the one it just got! This would be nice because the apparent speed of the web would increase dramatically while increasing raw "net" usage probably less than 20%. I bet most webmasters could guess to a high degree of accuracy which page will be most likely to be read after some particular other page is read. Besides, the webmaster could even list the pages in decreasing order of likeliness, and the browser could load more than one at a time, if it has time. Heck, it could load the first part of the six most likely next pages! We do tend to follow like sheep, you know... This would be useful for allowing the web author to "stream" several HTML files in a line for quicker access to each one in succession.

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Real backgrounds for text

This is asking a lot. I know, because I had the pleasure of trying to program it on 8088's and decided that good control of the background and foreground colors was more important. Fancy backgrounds really just get in the way and I, for one, like to turn them off in my browser when I'm surfing the web. In fact, I only leave them on sometimes to see what people are doing with them. And what they are doing is, making it very difficult to read the text.

That's the first problem with backgrounds.

The second problem is, of course, that they don't come on right away. They don't even come on first, which seems logical if they are going to exist at all. Of course there's a reason they don't come on first: They take a long time to download and the user (that's you) wants to start reading the text right away (of course.) So that's the second problem.

And the third problem is that they scroll with the text. The text should actually scroll over a stationary background! Or an animated one if you like, like credits in a movie! The junk that jerks all over the screen we see nowadays is pretty bad.

Beautiful software is beautiful in the details, and flashing screens are ugly. Browsers that redraw the background frequently and without cause are cause for concern.

Of course, I know how difficult what I'm asking for is. Things like this have to be implemented in hardware--and they're not! This is the opinion of someone with nearly 15 years of computer animation experience on IBM-PC's and compatibles, in Assembler language. Trust me--this stuff has to be done at the hardware level. Basic textual screen control needs to be implemented at the hardware level! A web site should generally have one background that it uses on multiple pages, but if it has more than one, the browser should store all of them. And that background should be a stationary image over which text can be scrolled at the pixel level totally without flicker. I wonder when we'll see this?

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For more thoughts on the Web, please visit these sites:

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The Animated Software Company

Mail to: rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
Last modified March 27th, 1997.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman