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   Re: XML-Data: advantages over DTD syntax? (and some wishes)

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  • From: digitome@iol.ie (Sean Mc Grath)
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Sat, 04 Oct 1997 09:22:25 +0100

[Paul Prescod]
>The relevant question is *which syntax is better*? I think that from a
>reader's and writer's point of view, the current DTD syntax is better.
>It is more readable and compact. From a *programmers* point of view, the
>new syntax is better because it allows you to reduce the number of
>parsers in your system.

Yes it reduces the number of parsers "a good thing (tm)" but isn't the big
win of the XML-Data approach is the extra miles per gallon that
accrue to all the XML application software?

All of a sudden it becomes possible to typeset documentation
of schemata by processing them with straight XML typesetting tools. 

It becomes possible to load schemata into XML databases as first class
citizens. XML greppers can grep 'em. XML web harversters can harvest

It becomes possible to contemplate a schema derivation mechanism
based on using XLL to "cherry-pick" from a collection of existing schemata.

It becomes possible to contemplate using an XML to XML transformation
system to transform schemata and then auto-generate the instance

[Insert thousands of other possibilities here].

For me the big win is the simplification it could bring to base XML
application development and the sheer intellectual appeal of it.
It is a very computer science-ish, Lisp-ish, Dame Ada Lovelace-type,
KISS way of looking at things. A grand unifying theory of a sort.

XML-Data is very much in tune with some of XML's' design goals
(ease of implementation, relative unimportance of minimisation etc.).
However it sits uneasily with the all important "XML is SGML" criteria.
For this very good reason DTD syntax must be kept.

However, if developers implemented DTDs via a transformation to XML-Data.....

The XML world would then have the freedom to create
new and better syntaxes for schemata safe in the knowledge that
todays tools that can process XML will process these new syntactic
sugars via transformation to base XML - the mother of all syntaxes.

Sean Mc Grath

Digitome Electronic Publishing

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