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   Re: XML syntax (was Re: external subset syntax)

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 22:03:51

At 20:31 16/12/97 +0100, james anderson wrote:

[... lots of "why?" appeals about XML ...]

james - and others. i have enormous sympathy with your position. i have a
somewhat unique role being an SGML-near-illiterate and yet being part of
the SIG (was WG) process. i can't divulge any of the last 4 months material
- it's confidential; the earlier stuff is archived.  

however i think it's allowable to say that enormous care has gone into this
process. for example the case-sensitivity involved a huge amount of
discussion with expert knowledge of many non-anglophone countries.
similarly the DTD-stuff has had a huge amount of discussion. my own naive
questioning about whitespace generated a large amount of material.

what i have come to accept from a year on the SIG (was WG) is the precision
of the process and the need for discipline. i - as do many SIG members -
raise things they don't feel happy about, but when they are decided agree
to try to make them work.

my own personal concerns are littered publicly on XML-DEV :-). like you i
find the different syntaxes very tedious because JUMBO has to read and
parse both. of course i really enjoy writing parsers especially past
midnight, and the best bit is tracking down the bugs, but others are
different. so i sigh, and hack it. fwiw i translate all the non-XML syntax
into XML internally because XML is superb to work with. (if anyone hasn't
discovered that yet, it's because they don't have a full xml system.)  xml
is incredible. i can do things with JUMBO in a few hours that would have
taken months before. 

it is very tough to have to ask you to take this on trust - i understand.
at least i have had my say - or shout - and accept that i *have* shouted
where necessary. *everything* has been listened to - not a sparrow chirps
without the WG taking it on board (or some other poetic phrase - i probably

it's important to realise that xml is part of a historical process. it was
by no means certain that by 1997q4 we should have xml hyped throughout the
world. it wouldn't have happened without a *huge* effort from the sgml
community and we have them to thank. if, as a result, we have
sgml-compatibility in xml that is an acceptable price for me.

what i *hope* is that as a community we make the job of writing parsers as
easy as possible. to do this we need APIs, communal libraries, test data,
etc. so james(a) should be able to borrow a DTD-parser *off the shelf* in
which case it's no big deal.


Peter Murray-Rust, Director Virtual School of Molecular Sciences, domestic
net connection
VSMS http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/vsms, Virtual Hyperglossary

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