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   XML-DEV as virtual community (was Re: XSchema Question 2: Namespaces)

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: Jon.Bosak@eng.Sun.COM (Jon Bosak),xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Fri, 05 Jun 1998 07:05:06

At 21:46 04/06/98 -0700, Jon Bosak wrote:
>| Assuming we are *technically* successful, that helps build up a
>| virtual community which knows how to tackle problems in a virtual
>| manner. In that respect I feel the current membership is rather
>| special :-).
>It is indeed an amazing collection of talent.
>| Personally there is no way that *I* can tackle the current XSL spec
>| since the requirements are quite outside my capability even to
>| comprehend :-) There is a very large emphasis on typography -
>| implementing XSL requires it to have the functionality of TeX as a
>| subset.
>Implementing XSL requires it to have the functionality of DSSSL.  Take
>a look at Jade.  Are you telling me that the collective resources of
>this entire group aren't adequate to the production of something that
>equals what James Clark can do by himself?
Thanks, Jon.

	Actually I frequently feel that the best programs are either written by a
large number of people or a single one. What we see on the Web in general
is a process of evolution in the Darwinian sense. Many solutions are not
planned, they evolve [1]. The uses to which HTML has been put represent the
results of experiments, a few of which have worked, and a great many of
which fail. A successful idea (or 'meme' to use Richard Dawkins' term)  can
breed very quickly on the WWW. 

	XML-DEV is a breeding ground for XML memes. Many ideas are seeded and a
very few survive. We cannot expect those to be the 'best' in some absolute
sense, but they will be 'good'. They will coexist with  a competing fluid
ecosystem of other memes.  

	The membership of XML-DEV grows steadily - Henry tells me it's about 1200
(and I suspect that the readership is higher since it's probably syndicated
in some organisations). I therefore don't think we are 'depleting the
energy resources' by working on this problem. It's interesting that many of
the people involved are quite distinct from those involved in SAX. I think
this represents an influx of talent that may have come from the non-SGML
community and in this sense it may bring fresh insights.

	I am interested and flattered that you see XML-DEV having a positive role
for XSL. Perhaps - when it is released - it would be clear what the areas
are in which implementation will be seen as valuable. Implementing XSL is a
very large project and will require modularisation. If that modularity is
clear in the spec, that will be a great help. In that case I am sure there
are many readers who will find modules that they:
	- need
	- would like to contribute to
	- have the appropriate skills (and work with interoperable technology -
e.g. language)
and they
	- are happy to do this in public
	- are happy to work in the XML-DEV manner (i.e. no formal guarantee that
their work will ultimately count for anything)

	For my own purposes I would love to see an effort on the non-typographical
aspects of XSL. We need to have mechanisms for implementing behaviour. This
is probably complementary to the (?main) effort in rendering XML for human


[1] The infrastructure of the Web (e.g. the protocols) is , of course, very
carefully regulated and cannot vary. It corresponds to the basic machinery
of any organism - essentially all use the same genetic code. But above that
there is great flexibility.
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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