How to Improve HTML       (1/27/2005)

        There are several reasons that the textbook in hyperlink format will be predominant in the future:
    1. Nowadays, if one encounters a passage that one cannot understand, one will go to the library, check every book in the field and anxiously flip through every page only to find that no book contains a desired solution. If a textbook were to use the hyperlink format, the solution to a question would be just a click away. Therefore, it is certain that future textbooks will adopt the hyperlink format.
    2. Oftentimes, the contents of any two textbooks on a subject are essentially the same. They may differ by as little as 1%. However, each book uses its own set of notations, terminology, and system of units. If one has read one book and desires to acquire the 1% difference from the second book, one must wade through content that is essentially 99% the same, but varies only cosmetically. This repetition is very frustrating and wastes a tremendous amount of the reader's time. Therefore, one good and complete book will solve this problem. If the reader encounters any difficulty, all he need do is to click on the confusing term.

        However, HTML has its intrinsic flaws. That is, it will not be of much use unless we can solve the following problems:
    1. Improving the function of an ordered list.
          Using the code
      "We may use the following methods to derive Lagrange's equations:<ol type="A">
      <li>D'Alembert's principle.
      <li>Hamilton's principle.<br>
      Remark. Method <li1> is more difficult than Method <li2>.</ol>", we will be able to print the following message on the computer screen some day:

      "We may use the following methods to derive Lagrange's equations:
      A. D'Alembert's principle.
      B. Hamilton's principle.
      Remark. Method A is more difficult than Method B."

    2. Hyperlinks and bookmarks.
          When we link to a passage from another web page, we would like to specify the beginning and the end of the passage. We would also like to use a different color to highlight the passage on the page that appears when the link is clicked. Currently, a hyperlink can only help us reach the top of the web page and a bookmark can only show the beginning of a passage. Their current functions are not good enough for practical use. [(2/2/2007) For the solution to this problem, see HTML 4 for Dummies, 4th ed., New York: Wiley, 2003, pp.208-214.]

    3. Interface with other people's web pages.
          If a solution of a mathematical problem is given on page 3 of Mr. A's web page, I would like to provide a hyperlink to his web page, but I do not want to link to the beginning of his web page, i.e., page 1. I want to link to page 3 of his web page instead. Since I cannot access his HTML code, I cannot insert a bookmark in his web page. So what should I do?
      Some ideas: One must be able to read and use someone else's HTML code, but one should not be able to permanently change the source code. For example, one should be able to search for a key word and anchor at the desired location on other people's web pages.

    4. Creating an ordered list of footnotes.
          Currently, every time we produce a new list number in an ordered list, it will jump to the next line. For footnotes, we want the footnote number to stay in line with the context. Suppose we assign a term a footnote number, say footnote 1. After we used footnote number 2 &3, we cite the same term again. This time we shall assign the term footnote 1 instead of footnote 4. Furthermore, if we want to insert a footnote in the context, it is desirable not have to change all the footnote numbers after the inserted footnote.

    5. E-books have the following drawbacks: First, readers cannot make comments on margins. When reviewing an e-book, one may forgets what one thought about its contents. Second, it is difficult to quote the information contained on a webpage. If an author quotes a passage by indicating its exact location on a webpage and readers input this information of the location into a computer, the computer should be able to find the webpage and highlight that passage. (11/14/2011)

    6. Search Engine: One can use any word in any language to search for its information, why can't one use a mathematical formula to search for its proof? (9/16/2012)

    7. Links {1, 2}.