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HTML layout (was Re: MTU of the Internet?)

  • From: Stephen Sprunk
  • Date: Sun Feb 08 13:28:25 1998

Sez Phil Howard:
> Merely laying out the page isn't enough.  It helps, and unfortunately some
> browsers (e.g. explorer) don't seem to even use this feature correctly.
> Having a bunch of blank positions where buttons are supposed to be doesn't
> give one any idea a button is supposed to be there, or even where "there"
> is, until some stuff, either the first pixels of that button, or the buttons
> around it, are getting loaded.  Seeing only the top button of a table of
> buttons doesn't help to find where the active space is for the green one
> you know you always click on, or the one with the person's head.
> One approach that can be used to get around this is to make all the images
> be very small low res only files, and include some Javascript that will
> detect when those are loaded and then start the medium res loading, and
> after that, the high res loading.  But I would not want to depend on people
> who have degrees in graphical arts to be in a position to manage network
> bandwidth controls, so other fundamental solutions are still needed.

All of this comes down to the clue level of the page author.  The IMG
tag is one of the most flexible tags, and already has a means to do
everything you're trying to fix.

Page layout speed:
The HEIGHT and WIDTH parameters (when applied to ALL images on a page)
facilitate laying out the entire page before any images are loaded.

Unknown buttons:
The ALT parameter can be used to provide a description of an image
while you're waiting for the image to load.  Judiciously chosen labels
can make possible to even surf without loading images.

Serialized images:
The LOWSRC parameter (which Netscape honors, not sure about MSIE) will
cause a low-res version of each image to be loaded before the browser
starts grabbing high-res versions.  With persistent HTTP and small
images, this can be almost instantaneous.

For a perfect example of HEIGHT, WIDTH, and ALT parameters, check out
the cisco main page.  I can't find a good LOWSRC example offhand.

Don't invent a new transfer protocol when simply creating better data
will fix the problem.


Stephen Sprunk          "Oops."                 Email: [email protected]
Network Consultant        -Albert Einstein      ICBM:  33.00151N 96.82326W