Jon’s Radio Comments

October 9, 2006

Compound documents for the web

Filed under: Uncategorized — jonsradiocomments @ 1:41 pm

The original item is here.



  1. It isn’t open and it isn’t ideal but the way converts presentations to SWF works quite nicely.

    Comment by Paul Watson — October 9, 2006 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  2. >But browsers don’t work directly with these archives, and web servers don’t
    >either, and there’s approximately zero chance that will change.

    If I remember correctly, Mozilla does support zip and jar files through the jar: pseudo protocol. You can reference resources as jar:zipfile_uri!/filename and things should work. Directory navigation inside the jar might need a cvs trunk mozilla build.

    I don’t think there is an equivalent in any of the other mainstream browsers though.

    Comment by Harshal — October 9, 2006 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  3. Perhaps AJAX is showing us that the programmers’ native environment of objects (data with associated code to interpret/modify it) is the more natural way to transmit data, even for the user experience. Strange how XML forces us to decouple the data from the code, transmit both, then re-couple them again and hope we get it right, remember all those API’s correctly, and hope everyone implements those API’s correctly.

    Perhaps those dynamic languages which can create a new class while running the app have a good idea. It seems to me that naming classes so they are easy to find and not create conflicts is the largest barrier to such an implementation.

    The whole idea of “documents” might have run its course.

    Documents are too much like novels to me. Once you start reading one, you have to read to the end before you know what the beginning was really talking about and why it was important. That’s just not agile.

    Comment by Darius — October 9, 2006 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

  4. I know it doesn’t answer the question of compound web documents, but if you have to get a Slidy presentation into one document that can be easily mailed around, I’ve found a toolchain that will convert Slidy presentations to PDFs:


    and then change the postscript to PDF using Ghostscript’s ‘ps2pdf’

    I’m relatively happy with the results of this transform.

    Thank you for your time,
    Daniel Fisher

    Comment by Daniel Fisher — October 9, 2006 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  5. +1 for this being a problem

    Comment by Michael Fagan — October 9, 2006 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

  6. Of course, conference websites could serve up a zip file as though it was a directory of files with an index.html file serving as the front end. Or they could unpack the files.

    Maybe all that’s really missing is an “upload directory” HTML form element. It’s pretty clear (to me) what such a control would do — it would just encode the entire directory as a MIME message (the way a single file is encoded currently) and include it in the POST.

    Another operation that is expedient in a different way is a WebDAV style upload, where the browser needs to add a control that says “upload everything in this directory (through a series of PUT and MAKECOL) to some web location”. And then conference material submission handles the upload somewhat separately from the rest of the form. The slight advantage here is that WebDAV is slightly more efficient (none of the MIME encoding overhead) and hopefully browsers would provide somewhat better UI than they currently do for file uploading (e.g., better progress).

    Either way requires browser changes, which are hard to make happen. The file upload thing has been a real pain for a long time, though, it would be great to fix it.

    Comment by Ian Bicking — October 9, 2006 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

  7. I don’t get it: what’s wrong with Option #1, the MHTML standard? It is used widely in mail clients, and there are numerous toolkits for it. Further, it’s drop-dead simple to write creators and readers for it.

    Comment by Paul Hoffman — October 9, 2006 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

  8. Jon,
    ZohoShow provides you an authoring environment on the web, and you can export your work as HTML, which gives you a full HTML presentation. Of course, if you are connected, you can also make the presentation online.

    Sridhar Vembu

    Comment by Sridhar Vembu — October 9, 2006 @ 9:07 pm | Reply

  9. > Maybe all that’s really missing is an “upload
    > directory” HTML form element.

    That’s a really interesting proposal. I’ve never been fully comfortable with either the MIME or ZIP/TAR approaches, because either requires some layer of intermediation that not everybody is guaranteed to have.

    Comment by Jon Udell — October 9, 2006 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  10. I don’t think that it would be ideal to export to a format that is used to render a presentation to a specific device. It would be best if there existed an open standardized format that could be used to model a presentation in a device-independent fashion so that the same presentation could be effectively consumed using an HDTV as well as using a smart phone. Perhaps ODF could serve as the basis for this type of solution.

    Comment by scott — October 10, 2006 @ 1:15 am | Reply

  11. Compound Headaches

    I’m going to hit this topic with a few posts (including the last one on LaTeX) because it comes up everywhere one looks: should everything be broken down into semi-independent parts? In other words, does componentization make things better, or ju…

    Trackback by Arcadian Visions — October 10, 2006 @ 2:40 am | Reply

  12. I must agree with Paul Hoffman above, I’ve used the “Save as MHTML” option in IE for a while and it’s worked fine for me. And the M doesn’t stand for Microsoft, it stands for MIME, as Jon points out it’s a standard.

    Comment by Alexander Selkirk — October 23, 2006 @ 8:27 pm | Reply

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