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Formal specifications (was: Who can implement W3C XML Schema ?)

formal specification xml
Jonathan Robie wrote:

> Yes, the problem with XML Schema is that is pseudo-formal. It has the 
> precision of prose and the easy readability of mathematical notation. The 
> Schema Formal Description tries to make this completely formal, but this 
> work has never been completed.

To come back on this important issue, IMO a specification should use 
either a formal description language or plain natural language (or both).

This reminds me of a specification language named SDL (normalized by the 
CCITT) I have been using in the 80's. The great thing with such a 
language was that you could run simulations and test your 
specifications. I remember having specified a project using SDL and 
having detected design flaws on tests scenarios before having written a 
single line of code (it was not eXtreme Programming but eXtreme 

This language was not so far from what is needed to specify the 
implementation of a schema language since it was especially well 
featured for describing finite state machines.

I have not used it since the 90's, but there seem to have been some 
convergences with UML-RT recently.

If the purpose of a spec such has W3C XML Schema part1 is to describe 
the validation algorithm why not using such a language completed by a 
plain English description?

See you in Paris.
Eric van der Vlist       http://xmlfr.org            http://dyomedea.com
http://xsltunit.org      http://4xt.org           http://examplotron.org


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