Welcome to the final chapter! If you've made it this far, you
you'll take a look at what the future may bring for Netscape and
that would sure be nice. Finally, you'll examine some of the alternatives
Although Netscape hasn't made any formal announcements, the developers
have mentioned some upcoming fixes and improvements to the language.
At this writing, Netscape 3.0 is nearly final; most of the new
features will have to wait for version 4.0.
Here are some of the improvements you can expect to see in future
- Event handlers will be able to include arguments. One useful
example will be the capability of receiving x and y values from
- You'll be able to enable and disable elements within a form-and
possibly, add new ones.
- Most importantly, bugs will be fixed. Once Netscape 3.0 is
features such as dynamic images become widespread on the Web.
new features. By the time you read this, a beta version will probably
be available. Here are some of the likely features:
- Support for HTML style sheets. These will enable you to specify
exact spacings, fonts, and layout for HTML elements, while staying
compatible with older browsers.
- Special features to enable collaboration between users, especially
in corporate intranets.
- Frames will be improved to include "floating" frames,
which can overlap each other and don't always include borders
- Some basic form validation capabilities and automatic computations
- Netscape's e-mail program will include MIME support and support
for secure, encrypted e-mail.
You learned about LiveConnect in Chapter 13, "Working with
Multimedia and Plug-Ins," and Chapter 16, "Integrating
Although LiveConnect is already available, I'm considering it
part of the future because it isn't well-supported yet. Once it
is, you'll be able to enjoy the following benefits:
- A wide variety of public-domain Java applets will be available,
- With any luck, plug-in authors will begin to widely support
and control new types of data-3D objects, VRML, video, real-time
audio, and many more.
It's impossible to know exactly which features will be added to
will become a completely different language or be replaced with
Rather than try to predict the future-an impossible task in a
constantly changing industry-I'll focus on the things that I would
of it) in the future. The next sections outline a wish list of
changes for which we can all hope.
ways. Although its simplicity is one of its greatest advantages,
it can be difficult to create complex programs. Here are a few
- Objects could be improved with a truly object-oriented implementation-for
example, an object could be defined as based on another object
and automatically inherit its characteristics.
at least some more accurate error messages.
As noted previously, Netscape intends to add the capability of
enabling and disabling form elements. It would also be nice if
you could modify a form after it was loaded-for example, changing
the width of a text field. Another interesting feature would be
the capability of modifying event handlers of form elements "on
applications-but it could be better. For example, images of different
sizes could be supported. An object to handle sounds would also
be very useful.
new floating frames will make things that much more complicated.
Anything to simplify working with frames would be an improvement.
In addition, there is currently no way to read or change the values
As mentioned previously, LiveConnect would be very useful if supported
by more Java applet and plug-in developers, and this is bound
to happen in the near future. It would also be very helpful if
to the dynamic images feature.
far, the most common use is to scroll a message. I believe that
more serious applications will become more common in the future:
currently do so. Validated forms will become more common as the
15, "Real-Life Examples III"-but I believe the potential
such as dynamic images become common knowledge, more complex games
will be developed.
- MSIE supports ActiveX, and Netscape can support it with the
scripting and control to ActiveX controls, and this use will increase
in the future-especially if MSIE turns out to be serious competition
for Netscape Navigator.
become a tool for manipulating Java applets and plug-ins dynamically.
environments. Currently, several tools for creating Java applets
application, without much actual programming. This may become
A step in the right direction is that several of the available
(event handlers and the <SCRIPT>
tag). Netscape's Navigator Gold is a WYSIWYG editor, and also
Finally, let's take a quick look at the Web languages that are
along with it.
Java was the first of the client-side Web languages, and is still
among the most powerful. You looked at Java in detail in Chapter
as a matter of fact. There are already over a thousand publicly
available Java applets, and more are being developed constantly.
the novelty stage. Although clocks, animations, and LED signs
are still common Java applets, more and more sites are using it
for interactive applications, games, and custom business-oriented
applications for business intranets.
Microsoft has committed to supporting Java. It's already supported
in the latest beta of Microsoft Internet Explorer, and rumor has
it that Java will be involved in a big way in the next release
Microsoft's concern is probably in response to the possibility
of Network Computers (ncs)-dedicated consumer machines that use
an Internet connection to access software and use Java as an operating
system. ncs haven't become popular yet, but Java seems to be here
CGI was the first taste of interactivity for the Web. Despite
still the most common type of program in use on the Web.
Any time you fill out a registration form, make an order, or answer
a question on most Web pages, a CGI script is used. Some sites
use CGI to read all pages from a database, so every page you read
comes from CGI.
CGI is also one of the few parts of the Web that doesn't seem
to be changing much. The CGI specification is much the same today
as it was two or three years ago-and on the Internet, that's a
very long time.
Some current CGI applications are being replaced with Java versions
because it can communicate with the server and is more interactive;
however, CGI will probably remain for a long time yet.
Server-side includes (SSI) is a way of embedding a CGI program
directly in a Web page. Although less commonly used on the Web,
it still provides features available in no other language.
SSI is often used to add counters and dynamic information to pages,
and it is used on some servers as a simple way of including the
same text-for example, a copyright notice-on a Web page.
You may not have heard of LiveWire, but it's a close relative
called LiveScript, so the names were similar.)
on the server instead of the client. This gives it many of the
advantages of CGI and SSI. It can also communicate with client-side
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it may be. There is one disadvantage
of LiveWire-it works only on Netscape's Web server software. Because
the majority of Web sites are run using the free servers-for example,
Apache and ncSA httpd-LiveWire has had severe growing pains.
It is unknown whether Netscape will enable LiveWire to be supported
on other server platforms, or whether anyone will attempt to do
so; until then, it may be a useful tool if you happen to have
a Netscape server.
Shockwave was one of the first plug-ins available for Netscape
Navigator. It enables Director movies and animations to be displayed
inline in a Web page, and it enables some measure of interactivity.
The Shockwave plug-in is available at no charge from MacroMedia.
However, to create content for Shockwave, you need to use MacroMedia
Director, which is not available for free. This has prevented
Shockwave from being widespread, but there are already a wide
variety of Shockwave sites available-and more are coming.
One reason sites avoid Shockwave, and other plug-in-based additions
to the Web, is the concern that not all users will download the
plug-in. Netscape has considered making plug-ins download automatically-something
like ActiveX controls in MSIE-and this may solve the problem.
In addition, future versions of Netscape may be bundled with plug-ins.
ActiveX controls (previously known as OLE or OCX controls) are
Microsoft's answer to dynamic Web content. These controls can
be embedded in a Web page and add capabilities to the page-ranging
from scrolling text to an entire spreadsheet.
The popularity of ActiveX in the future will depend on the popularity
of MSIE, currently the only browser that supports these controls.
In addition, a plug-in for Netscape, ncompass, supports ActiveX.
Currently, Netscape does not plan to add ActiveX capabilities
to Navigator directly.
One limitation of ActiveX is that it works only on Windows platforms. This limits the audience and may prevent it from becoming widely accepted.
VBScript is the only currently available Web language that fits
It's a simpler language and may be easier for beginners to understand.
Again, the popularity of VBScript will depend on the popularity
simply keep using a language with which they're already familiar.
On the other hand, Netscape may be adding support for VBScript
in a future version.
Currently, VBScript is supported only by MSIE. Netscape does not currently intend to support it. However, if MSIE becomes widespread, it may be forced to.
language that takes them over-additions to HTML itself may eliminate
- Netscape intends to add simple form validation as an extension
to HTML in a future version.
may be built directly into HTML in the future.
- Style sheets, which will be supported in Netscape 4.0 and
are already supported by MSIE, will give both designers and users
(such as deciding whether to display a frame version).
that there will always be a use for it in Web pages. (But will
there always be Web pages? That's another story.)
to its Web browser
- A look at the other languages on the Web, and how they might
If you've read this guide in order, you've reached the end of the
line. If not, you can learn more with the following:
- To learn about CGI and SSI, turn to Chapter 17, "Combining
- To learn more about ActiveX, VBScript, and MSIE, turn to Chapter
18, "Using ActiveX and Microsoft Internet Explorer."
see Chapter 19, "Real-Life Examples IV."
features of MSIE 3.0 make it easy to support a variety of scripting languages.
|Q:||Will ActiveX controls ever be available on anything but Windows platforms?
|A:||Doubtful, because they rely heavily on the Windows API. If they were implemented on other platforms, they would probably be slower and require large amounts of memory.
|Q:||Is every Web language listed in this chapter?
|A:||I've tried to list the most popular and controversial languages-those that are driving the future of the Web. However, there are always others. For example, there are well over a
hundred plug-ins besides Shockwave that enable different types of interactive content.
I hope you've enjoyed this guide, and that you're as excited as
ground, because the language is still changing. appendix C lists
some online resources that may be helpful-in addition, be sure
to watch the Web site listed in the Introduction for updates,
additions, and more examples.
If you create something new and exciting, I'd like to see it.
Contact me at the address listed in the introduction. I'll also
try to answer any questions about this guide you may have.
(Or at least, may you not give up until they are.) Good luck!