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Re: documenting schemas/DTDs

  • From: David Megginson <david@m...>
  • To: "'xml-dev@i...'" <xml-dev@i...>
  • Date: 18 Nov 1999 06:16:56 -0500

documenting xml schemas
"W. Eliot Kimber" <eliot@i...> writes:

> My personal feeling, based on many years of painful experience
> developing and maintaining DTDs of varying scale and complexity and
> documenting same (including the original version of IBM's IBM ID Doc
> application and the second edition of the HyTime architecture, both
> massive documentation projects) is that the only practical way to
> develop and manage non-trivial document types is by making the
> documentation the primary definition, with the working declarations
> extracted from it using some sort of make process.  

[snip]

> If you are are creating DTD-syntax DTDs, the syntax of DTDs is simply
> not up to the task of maintaining and managing documentation of any
> useful sophistication. 

I agree very strongly with Eliot, perhaps because we both have a lot
of experience in creating (rather than just processing) user
documentation.

Even a schema spec that allowed very rich documentation in each
declaration would be at best the equivalent of JavaDoc, and that's not
good enough.  The problem (and this is a classic in tech writing) is
that the optimal way to arrange information for a human reader is
rarely the optimal way to arrange information for technical
implementation, and vice versa.

Except in very rare circumstances, for example, any tech writer who
structures a user manual around the UI ("Chapter 1: the File Menu")
deserves to be fired without severance pay, ritually humiliated in
front of the whole office, and rolled all the way out to the parking
lot in a garbage can -- the fact that they aren't is a testimony to
the shortage of even minimally competent tech writers out there.

Personally, I deserve the same treatment for never having provided a
proper SAX 1.0 spec -- I'll try to remedy that situation before
everyone figures out how to send a garbage can through e-mail.


All the best,


David

-- 
David Megginson                 david@m...
           http://www.megginson.com/

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