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Re: Modern talking

  • From: Hans-Juergen Rennau <hrennau@yahoo.de>
  • To: Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com>
  • Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2017 21:50:17 +0000 (UTC)

Re:  Modern talking
Care should be taken to avoid speaking of completely different things, using similar words. Writing ...

"But if you're going to aim for the skies in terms of a unified information model, then..."

your words "unified information model" have nothing to do with what I call a "unified view of information". The latter term I use to mean a system defining (a) a complete catalog of the recognized forms of information, (b) a complete catalog of composable operations applicable to information. Interestingly, arithmetics, for example, also match this definition, so is XQuery really special? I think it is, due to the unique design of its information model, calculated to capture tree-structured information and, by implication, a very large part of the information resources surrounding us.

Perhaps you agree that XQuery meets this definition? And perhaps even with the view that this purity and closedness have an impact on its expressiveness? Ironically, I take a much more pragmatic view than you: I couldn't care less about those 19 primitive types, for example, but I do care about the possibility to apply a single, uniform (and extremely powerful) navigation model to any mixture of XML, HTML, JSON, CSV, SQL/SELECT, .ini, .yaml, ... resources. To let a single expression sweep across them, collect and combine the collected into a new shape! I am absolutely indifferent to some "quirks" betraying the XML heritage, as long as they do not comprimise the capability to capture all those other, non-XML trees.

XML technology is a unified view of information which is extremely pragmatic (aligned with a world of trees, crosses of arbitrariness and usefulness), whereas RDF is a unified view of information which is really fundamental (doing away with almost any preconditions, but in typical scenarios much more difficult to handle.) The combination of both views is a beautiful challenge.

Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com> schrieb am 20:19 Montag, 28.August 2017:

On 28 Aug 2017, at 06:38, Hans-Juergen Rennau <hrennau@y...> wrote:

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.

For my part, I've always been a technician, not a visionary. I just try to make things work. I'm happy to leave the vision thing to others.

But if you're going to aim for the skies in terms of a unified information model, then it has to be something RDF-like rather than something XML-like. XML is just too littered with arbitrary quirks. I've always felt that XQuery was too closely tied to XML to have aspirations to become something more universal. Sure, many of the ideas in XQuery are great, and independent of the model, but some of the features (such as element constructors, or the magic 19 primitive data types) are just too tied in to the particulars of XML. 

Michael Kay

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