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   Re: A little wish for short end tags (Was: RE: SDD bogus)

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  • From: Paul Prescod <papresco@technologist.com>
  • To: "XML Developers' List" <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 07:48:42 -0400

David Megginson wrote:
> Paul Prescod has quite rightly objected to a simplistic slippery-slope
> argument against short end tags.  I have thought of what might be a
> stronger argument: as an (unstated?) design principle, XML provides
> exactly one alternative for nearly every markup item.  

I think that you are correct that this is a stronger point. But XML does
allow alternative encodings. Consider defaulted attributes. Or <A j="k">
vs. <A j='k'>. Consider &lt; vs. &#60; . <ABC></ABC> vs. </ABC>.

Each of these was consciously added to XML as a usability feature.
Nevertheless all of them cause implementors more work. But in my mind, not
one of them has the cost to implementors vs. benefit to users ratio of
short end tags.

Tim is right that the critical issue is the ease of processing of XML
software by "stupid" (regexp-based) software. He feels that this situation
has changed since we debated it.  I don't agree. I thought that it was
evident then that there would be parsers for XML for Perl, Python and any
other regular-expression friendly. At the very least perlsgml, sgmlspl and
sgmllib would always exist.

Nevertheless the situation has changed in some ways. XML is now widely
hyped and destined for success. It is far more popular with implementors
than with users. This is the right time to try to rebalance the scales so
that XML becomes a megahit and not a hacker favourite.

 Paul Prescod  - http://itrc.uwaterloo.ca/~papresco

Can we afford to feed that army, 
 while so many children are naked and hungry?
Can we afford to remain passive, 
 while that soldier-army is growing so massive?
  - "Gabby" Barbadian Calpysonian in "Boots"

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