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Re: XML is Like a Box of Chocolates

  • From: cbullard@hiwaay.net
  • To: Jim Melton <jim.melton@oracle.com>
  • Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2012 11:54:37 -0600

Re:  XML is Like a Box of Chocolates
Which is why the mil-stds have those voluminous english descriptions  
if one is lucky.  If not, it's dealer's choice.  Because they are  
tagging multiple versions from one DTD, there can be several different  
ways to tag the same data and one has to have the secret decoder ring  
(read the notes in the DTD, find an example and get the customer to  
sign an oath in blood, etc) to know which is intended or test against  
the FOSI/PDF or XSL-FO/PDF rendering.  Sometimes even after those  
tests, it's a choice made by dumb luck.

A DTD/schema is as reliable for this inversely proportional to the  
number of tasks it is made to serve.  The chocolate box may have  
labels on it and that may be as good as it is going to be.

XML web theory is sometimes predicated on the notion that you can't  
tell in advance who is consuming an entity or for what purpose.  In  
practice, that is rarely true or at least, it is an assumption one can  
usefully challenge.  I sat on a committee designing public safety  
communications protocols where at the end of the week and much  
complexity, it became apparent the user in almost all cases picks up  
the phone and calls the next county operator before dispatching their  
assets making most of what we had done in the week yet another  
shoulder boulder.  It could do useful work but in practice was seldom  
as efficient as a telephone and a phone number.  Caveat emptor.

len

Quoting Jim Melton <jim.melton@oracle.com>:

> Peter, Roger, et al,
>
> At 3/4/2012 11:27 AM, Peter Flynn wrote:
>> On 04/03/12 14:05, Costello, Roger L. wrote:
>> ...
>>
>> By the same token, be careful that you don't fail to assign meaning
>> explicitly where it is needed. The <title> element as the first child of
>> a <chapter> element is important (the clue is in the name "title").
>
> And therein lies extreme danger.  I, like (one would hope) most XML  
> vocabulary designers, specify element names and attribute names that  
> are somehow mnemonic to their intended usage.
>
> However, as a document author, not to mention the author of tools  
> intended to process XML that uses such a vocabulary, I MUST NOT go  
> by intuition to decide how to mark up my document or how to process  
> documents.  I MUST know the vocabulary designer's intended meaning  
> or I'm likely to screw things up royally.  Element names might be  
> "clues", but they are not "proof" of anything.
>
> (For example: Is a book "title" 'the same as' a person's "title"?   
> Is it 'the same as' the "title" to a piece of property -- real  
> estate, vehicle, etc.?  Is it always a noun, or sometimes a verb, or  
> even an adjective -- when used in those different ways, the  
> structure [attributes, children] might be different and the  
> processing is almost certainly different.)
>
> Hope this helps,
>    Jim
>
> ========================================================================
> Jim Melton --- Editor of ISO/IEC 9075-* (SQL)     Phone: +1.801.942.0144
>   Chair, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC32 and W3C XML Query WG    Fax : +1.801.942.3345
> Oracle Corporation        Oracle Email: jim dot melton at oracle dot com
> 1930 Viscounti Drive      Alternate email: jim dot melton at acm dot org
> Sandy, UT 84093-1063 USA  Personal email: SheltieJim at xmission dot com
> ========================================================================
> =  Facts are facts.   But any opinions expressed are the opinions      =
> =  only of myself and may or may not reflect the opinions of anybody   =
> =  else with whom I may or may not have discussed the issues at hand.  =
> ========================================================================   
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