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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@s...>
  • To: xml-dev@l...
  • Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 20:39:23 -0500

I'm pondering the term 'invited expert' and what it really means.

Do we really want a Web designed by experts?

Think about this for a while.

Most programmers aren't really experts.  Most systems architects aren't 
really experts.  They're qualified (we hope) to do their jobs, but they 
won't necessarily do them in the most elegant or efficient way, and only 
spend time on optimization when it's clear there is a return on the 
investment.  Most programs are ho-hum efficient - enough to keep users and 
customers from complaining.

When experts design systems, they know that they can go the extra mile for 
optimization, take advantage of the options provided, and reuse 
technologies in ways that go beyond the expectations of their 
creators.  That's what these folks do, all the time.

I'd like to think that experts would design systems built for ordinary 
developers - technologies that are already optimized, which provide elegant 
answers to complex problems without requiring developers to think too hard 
on the possibilities.

Instead, I'd argue that most of what we've seen in markup - with two 
exceptions, one more glaring than the next - is design by experts for 
experts.  Options and features are important, so there are lots of 
them.  Experts can figure them out, so everyone else must be able to as 
well.  Only experts can really understand their interior details, so only 
experts should contribute.

The two glaring exceptions are XML and HTML.  XML was a deliberate 
stripping away of features beloved by power users and experts, though I'd 
suggest it didn't go nearly far enough.  HTML, of course, was designed by 
an amateur.

[Some experts, working in smaller groups, can break out with cleaner and 
simpler systems -I'd suggest that RELAX and TREX went this way.  It is 
possible, just not especially likely when experts are typically gathered 
into committees.]

Maybe it's time for experts to let users figure out what they need.

Simon St.Laurent - Associate Editor, O'Reilly and Associates
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
XHTML: Migrating Toward XML
http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books


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