Microsoft has posted an interesting fact sheet about Dynamic HTML, a feature in the upcoming Internet Explorer 4.0 product that is based onproposals to the W3C. Unlike the proprietary tags in Netscape Communicator, such as LAYER, ILAYER, and COLS, which have been rejected by the W3C, all of the features in Dynamic HTML are being developed in collaboration with the W3C. This puts Microsoft in the odd position of being a more "open" than Netscape in its implementation of Web technology. Additionally, Netscape is offering a feature called "JavaScript Accessible Style Sheets" (JASS) which the company erroneously calls "Dynamic HTML," further muddying the waters: in reality, JASS allows content and styles to be updated only at load time. Thus, they are not truly "dynamic."

The interesting thing about Dynamic HTML is that it allows the content of a page to change after the page has downloaded to the user's browser in response to user actions. You can show, hide, or change elements at any time, specify the X, and Y coordinates and Z-order of any elements at anytime, and change the content and structure of the page at any time.

So what did I get out this? Am I sold on the wonders of Dynamic HTML and full of pro-Microsoft feel-good? Not quite. What I got out of this, especially as a Webmaster and Web developer, is that there is something rotten in Mountain View:

Netscape should be strongly admonished for taking the time to do anything that circumvents technology that's already been accepted by the W3C when such proposals already offer solutions to the problems they are now wasting time trying to fix. The day and age of the proprietary tag is over: Webmasters want their pages to look right and perform well in all browsers, and Netscape's dinosaur tactics just make them look foolish and out of touch. Netscape has committed the ultimate sin, the same sin Microsoft committed when it released Outlook 97: they are treating their customers and users like idiots.

And we resent it. A lot.

Want more information?
Dynamic HTML Fact Sheet
Dynamic HTML Fact Sheet (Word DOC version)