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

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  • From: "Rick Jelliffe" <ricko@allette.com.au>
  • To: "Paul Prescod" <papresco@technologist.com>, <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Sun, 5 Oct 1997 01:57:35 +1000

> From: Paul Prescod <papresco@technologist.com>
> Sean Mc Grath wrote:
> > 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.
One of the reasons LISP has failed is that it does only have one 
syntax, rather than a declaration syntax intertwined with a function
syntax. (Of course, in LISP declarations such as they are functions 
or special forms that return values, so this is not to criticise,
and LISPs usually are weakly typed or untyped.)

C (and to a lesser extent C++), on the other hand, have different 
syntaxes for declarations and functions--

	int a;
	x = fopen(fp);
are different syntaxes.  There is no  a=integer();  syntax.
Even casting is a separate syntax.

This difference in syntax is perhaps one of the reasons for the
success of C over LISP. Of course, C++ allows member functions for
a lot of these operations and brings them into the same syntax as
other functions. But at the same time C++ also introduces different
syntaxes for IO operations (i.e.  >>) which I think seek to 
emphasize the structure of the text being IOed--in other words even
in C++ the designers think that KISS is a goal rather than a principle.

I do not like claims that some things are "computer science-ish" because
computer science, on its own rationale, is an attempt to gain scientific
understanding in the domain of computing.  While these attempts will have
cultural forms, it is a spurious claim to CS's authority for anyone to
say a syntax is more "computer science-ish".  Which is the most computer
science-ish: Boolean logic, PROLOG, assembler, C, Eiffel or OmniMark?
Computer scientists in universities tend to produce small elegant languages
because that is all their modest budgets and limited problem domains allow. 

Rick Jelliffe 

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