When validation is appropriate
Just to follow up on the thread last week about validation, there is an excellent paper online from the Extreme Markup conference "A Decade of DTDs and SGML in Scholarly Publishing: What Have We learned?" at http://www.idealliance.org/papers/extreme02/html/2002/Rosenblum01/EML2002Rosenblum01.html It puts validation more in the context of organization behaviour and control: "As many publishers have discovered, no matter how complete the documentation, strict conformance to the DTD designer's interpretation can only be ensured with software-based quality control tools. However, SGML producers will not use quality control tools and fix reported problems without negative feedback loops. Publishers must actively monitor and enforce quality standards, even after providing tools to SGML producers." The question that springs to my mind is "what kinds of constraints are these quality control tools implementing?" -- are they the kinds of things that Schematron is good at, or the kind of things that WXS is good at (or both or neither)? I have repeatedly raised the point over the last few years that because there are no systematic studies into this kind of thing, we really must take all schema standards with a pinch of salt to a certain extent: they all provide consistent and technically excellent tools, but there is no reason to expect that they meet the kinds of tricky requirements that people face in real life. (Of course, I think the rational repsonse to this is that we need a general framework for validation within which little languages can be plugged in, to allow innovation and natural selection. Hence Schematron, ISO DSDL and XAR. We need to provide a path by which individual proprietary solutions can, as they prove themselves, migrate to the public domain.) So I would be very interested in hearing (directly or through XML-DEV) from XML-DEVers (especially lurkers) what kinds of non-DTD constraint-checking they have had to implement, whether to help data entry, QC, QA or unit testing. Cheers Rick Jelliffe
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