Re: Proposition: "SGML is Gumming Up the Works"
[Mark Tucker] > I wish I had a clean concscience. That I could say "I'm an SGML > expert, and I still believe ...." But I'm a newbie, and definitely > NOT an SGML expert. If I may be so bold, it's possible that that lack of experience is causing you to perceive a dichotomy where there really isn't one. > Like "Samuel R. Blackburn" <sblackbu@e...>, I got interested in > XML not because it is a good document formatting language, but on > the promise that with XML, I can interchange Data! As Paul Prescod pointed out, documents *are* data: very complex, non-regularized data. An informal proof of this is that XML was designed for documents, and proved (completely as a side-effect) to be very useful for regularized data. > But, stepping into the XML community, I'm overwhelmed by the SGML > history of XML. I'm told: "No, conforming to type definitions isn't > good enough. That is not Real Validation. You must be valid > according to a DTD." (Perhaps XML-DATA seems to have died because > it wasn't DTD-ish enough; I don't know.) Who told you that? The biggest difference between XML and SGML is that you do *not* have to be valid according to a DTD. The only kind of validation *defined by XML* is DTD validation, but (a) that validation is not required, and (b) validation outside of the scope of REC-XML is allowed (and in fact encouraged by the specification). What you may have heard was a caution about imprecise langauge, which SGMLers tend to be picky about. If you used the word "validation" in an XML context, someone may have pointed out that the word is well- and precisely-defined for XML, and that you were misusing it in that sense. > So, we end up jumping through hoops to write DTD's to express DATA > which is very, very, very easily described in terms of modern > programming language type systems. So describe it in terms of modern programming language type systems. I'm not sure what the problem here is: <data> <type-specification> <int name="i"/> <char name="c"/> <float name="f"/> </type-specification> <i>5</i> <c>h</c> <f>1.541</f> <j>Undefined data type</j> <c>Type violation error</c> </data> Of course, you'll have to write your own program to check the type-validity of your document, whereas you can get DTD validation for free. But if what you need to do goes beyond DTDs, and you haven't the patience to wait for the various data specification efforts going on right now, then you have to roll your own. > All the while, hearing a low chant: "What kind of cretin are you? > You don't want to *validate* your data! (shock) You only want > well-formed documents." -- NO and YES. I'm not sure where you're getting this shock and horror. Validation is good because, and only because, it verifies that your data is what it claims to be, and therefore other applications may make certain assumptions without breaking. If your serialized data stream can be guaranteed because it came out of a database or is the result of literate programming, then you *have* validated your data, though not in the XML sense. > I don't care if my document can be validated by a pitiful DTD. I do > care that it conform to a real type schema! So create your own form of validation. It's as simple as that. Document geeks created XML, and its built-in validation is optimized for validating documents. Want something else? Make it! > I'm not really mad at XML but, I think "Richard L. Goerwitz III" > <richard@g...> is on to something in wondering if SGML > compatibility is going to bring down the XML effort. Quite the contrary. If XML had not been built on SGML, new applications would have had to be written to test the ideas in the specification. Building on SGML, XML was usable *the moment it was created* with existing, high-powered tools. If this had not been true, it might have succeeded, but not nearly so quickly. > Much of the initial selling of XML was: > You don't need DTD's to be a good citizen. > > I hope we can honor that promise. The first part ("You don't need DTDs") isn't a promise, it's a fact, enshrined in the XML specification:  prolog ::= XMLDecl? Misc* (doctypedecl Misc*)? The second part ("to be a good citizen") is a completely subjective statement and depends on so many philosophical variables that I won't attempt to address it, except to say that no one could possibly have promised that in any meaningful way. If you like XML, use it. If you don't, use something else; take the good stuff from XML and leave the bad stuff out. That's what XML did with SGML; you go right ahead and do the same thing. If we like what you do, we'll use that instead, and you'll have your picture on the cover of _Wired_. -Chris -- <!NOTATION SGML.Geek PUBLIC "-//Anonymous//NOTATION SGML Geek//EN"> <!ENTITY crism PUBLIC "-//O'Reilly//NONSGML Christopher R. Maden//EN" "<URL>http://www.oreilly.com/people/staff/crism/ <TEL>+1.617.499.7487 <USMAIL>90 Sherman Street, Cambridge, MA 02140 USA" NDATA SGML.Geek> xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev@i... Archived as: http://www.lists.ic.ac.uk/hypermail/xml-dev/ To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo@i... the following message; (un)subscribe xml-dev To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo@i... the following message; subscribe xml-dev-digest List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa@i...)
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