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Re: Modern talking

  • From: Hans-Juergen Rennau <hrennau@yahoo.de>
  • To: Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com>, "Liam R. E. Quin" <liam@w...>
  • Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2017 05:38:39 +0000 (UTC)

Re:  Modern talking
Thank you very much for these points concerning public interest and the danger of immature decisions.

Valid as they are, I think the heart of the problem lies elsewhere: it is the lack of vision. Kolodopolus spoke of a "unified view of information", revolving around values and expressions. This is revolutionary from a conceptual point of view, and the practical consequences are baffling - just remember the possibility to express (!) complex selections of resource contents, across resource boundaries and even across media type boundaries. If prominent figures of the W3C shared this vision, they could not stop themselves from thinking about how to continue, be there public interest or not, even before receiving feedback. Certainly they would be impatient to enable the translation of as many data formats as possible into XDM node trees, expanding the scope of XQuery proportionally. Certainly they would be interested in spreading the navigational power of XPath across the resource boundary, up into the layer above the resources, which is physical and virtual file systems (a second layer of trees!).

But I should also mention that Kolodopolus said only one half of what he should (or would have liked to) say. There is a second "unified view of information", also W3C made, and yet (almost) totally independent from XML technologies: RDF. Again - a complete picture of what information is and a formal definition of its evaluation. XML is the grand picture of tree-structured information. RDF is the grand picture of graph-structured information. (Disturbingly, the symmetry is imperfect: SPARQL is by no means an equivalent to XQuery, being a mere query language, in stark contrast to XQuery which is an information expression language.)

If promiment figures of the W3C shared Kolodopolus' vision of two "unified views of information", they could not stop themselves from thinking about how to bring both views into a creative cooperation, at least - if not even finding a path to true integration. I wonder if those minds have thought hard and passionately about whether it makes sense to admit triples into the XDM. Can't you imagine XQuery expressions consuming trees, returning triples? Expressions consuming triples, returning trees? Finding and navigating trees, guided by triples, etc.? Please think intensely about RDF's  new Shapes Constraint Language (SHACL) which makes it possible to carve shapes from RDF datasets which are exact equivalents of XDM node trees (!) - it may well be that breathtaking possibilities of integration lie ahead of us. It is in the first place a question of whether or not we are inspired by a vision of a larger whole, larger than isolated items of feedback and requirements.

Think passionately!



Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com> schrieb am 21:16 Sonntag, 27.August 2017:


>
> i can't give you an official answer on behalf of W3C, but i can tell
> you the simple reality: we only get three or four people turning up to
> XQuery meetings, and the Working Group doesn't have resources to get
> more than errata done.  If we could find maybe thirty or a hundred
> people, from a dozen or more organizations that are W3C Members or
> might join, to pay for the work and to show that the work would be of
> wide applicability, yes, we'd happily charter new work.



Even if there were more people eager to start work on the next version, I think there's a danger they would do the wrong things. One of the problems with starting work on version N immediately after finishing version N-1 is that you don't yet have any real user feedback. You're more likely to get a sensible set of requirements if you pause for thought for a couple of years. That was actually a positive outcome of the aborted effort on XSLT 1.1: the WG spent two years working on the wrong things, then tore it up and started again, by which time it was much clearer what users actually needed.

It's also worth pointing out that every time you produce a new version, you leave some implementations behind on the old version, and this doesn't actually do anything to enhance interoperatibility, which is W3C's primary goal.

Michael Kay
Saxonica




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