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OO and scripting

Subject: OO and scripting
From: Paul Prescod <paul@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 17:39:51 -0500
oo and scripting
Dave LeBlanc said:
> I personally think <script> ought to be in XML itself - I can imagine 
> using it to allow a document to convey (via it's DTD for example) how 
> a receiving processor is supposed to manipulate it. Very object 
> oriented.

I don't think that your idea will take hold.

I have been told that Tim Berners-Lee was late for a keynote at one of the
early WWW conferences because he was in a big argument with Alan Kay (of
Smalltalk fame). Alan was trying to convince him that the Web was totally
broken and should instead be based on intelligent objects floating between
servers, sort of like RMI or a big, distributed smalltalk engine.

I wasn't there but I see this story as incredibly important because it
demonstrates the two different views of the world. On the one side is
Alan, data and code are the same -- mix'em up. On the other side is Tim,
data is data, code works on data. Code can be viewed as data but should
not be mixed with the primary data.

The two views also existed in the document processing world. Most smart
people bet on cool stuff like Postscript, display Postscript, TeX and
LaTeX. A few people said that mixing data and processing (especially
algorithmic processing) shortens the lifetime of your data. Most others
figured that as long as it displays correctly it does what it was supposed
to do and the documents demonstrably displayed correctly.

Now the separationists we've won. Postscript is likely doomed, display
Postscript will hopefully go to hell with it, macro-embedding in Word is
now widely frowned upon and downright difficult, TeX is used increasingly
as an output format and those who use it for input are increasingly
informed about the dangers of doing so (but may have good reasons anyhow).

The maintainers and editors of the XML specification all come from this
separationist background. It will be a long, long time before they agree
to add something to the XML specification that takes us back to the
"object oriented" view of the world. OO is great for building software
systems that manipulate information but it is not a good basis for the
information models themselves.

More information:

http://www7.scu.edu.au/programme/fullpapers/1920/com1920.htm

-- 
 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for only himself
 http://itrc.uwaterloo.ca/~papresco

Diplomatic term: "Emerging Markets"
Translation: Poor countries. The great euphemism of the Asian financial
             meltdown. Investors got much more excited when they thought 
they could invest in up-and-comers than when they heard they could invest 
in the Third World.(Brills Content, Apr. 1999)


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