RE: Re: XSLT and the 80/20 point (was RE: Tim Bray on " Which
Yes, and in their day and on the system for which they are re-architected, they thrive and dominate. That's directed evolution in action. Yet hindsight has to be as accurate as we can make it, or we make the wrong decisions. Again, there are conceptual and systemic issues for the technical decisions. SGML is big by comparison to XML. The re-architecting to make SGML work on the web was based on decisions that are themselves being reviewed. XML fixes an SGML Declaration in code. Wise? For a very large percentage of XML developers, yes. For some, no. Now the question becomes does XML get larger to meet the needs of those who have a use for the declaration, or do we say, "no, that's SGML and you should use the right tool". Then the responsibility to upgrade SGML in response to that user's needs is clear and XML stays targeted. But if we go down a path of "SGML doesn't matter; SGML is document-centric and we all KNOW that data centric is the way", then XML becomes bastardized. SGML like any other standard targeted to too broad a set of surface similar applications becomes too big. Do that to XML and we miss the value of the lessons of history, but how to stay simple and stay pertinent is hard. We could restrict the content scope (somewhat like saying the WWW should be English-only) and get a simplification. Anyone really want that? Some did but it's stupid on the face of it. It murders the reason for having the web to begin with: to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge. So where we simplify matters. To make that decision, we need a clean history and it must include both conceptual and systemic information. It's no good to say "SGML doesn't matter" if we don't put that in a systemic context. XML's design would not have mattered in 1986. It would have been understood as too loose. Validation mattered then. Character set descriptions at the document locale mattered. Memory storage size mattered. Depth of recursion mattered. EBCDIC mattered. Hypertext didn't matter. The Internet didn't matter. Five years later, when hypertext became something more than a lab curiosity and desktops became more than toys, it was time to rethink that. Five years after that with some experience with a very large distributed hypertext, the lessons were clear. At that point, many of the SGML Way decisions clearly did not apply any longer for THAT SYSTEM in the majority of uses. Now almost five years after that, some more rethinking is happening. As a result of that, we may see more SGML-like features reemerging. Should they be in XML or should SGML be reworked with a seamless path between the two factored in as has been done to date? In hindsight, what are the lessons, what are the requirements, and what are the ways forward? The human dimension of this is that we have to be extremely cognizant, and I for one do not trust those decisions to be made by any person or group who thinks that revisionism of history is needed to sell their case. If we go down that path, we simply repeat mistakes. Clarity matters. len From: Jonathan Robie [mailto:jonathan.robie@s...] At 01:06 PM 3/18/2002 -0600, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote: >Except in hindsight. Everyone is an expert at that. >XML was designed "in hindsight". > >Hindsight matters. There's a lot of truth to that. Everyone knows about Occam's Razor, and most designers say simplicity, conceptual integrity, etc. are important to them. Still, most of our initial designs are more complex than we would like. If we're lucky, our colleagues point out potential simplifications. More likely, they point out all the important cases that our initial solution did not cover. A good designer then goes back to the drawing board, looking for a solution general enough to cover these cases without a bunch of special casing, using hindsight as a tool for knowing what to throw out (grin!). One set of technologies that matter are the break-through technologies that show how something new can be done. These generally have warts, but they show the way. Ten years later, we may want to use something else. Another set of technologies that matter are less brilliant, simple reworkings of the original ideas. XML was not creative or original. Neither was Java, really. Both are excellent examples of hindsight in action.
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