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   Re: Namespaces and XML validation

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 07:35:26

At 19:37 10/08/98 -0400, W. E. Perry wrote:
>I think that we have here the fundamental question of XML and, with it, the
>likeliest source of schism among us. XML is routinely introduced as
>        a) the (infinitely) extensible markup language, based on the
>concept of well-formedness, on five hard-wired entities, and the three
>characters ordered 'xml';
>    and also as
>        b) a formal subset of ISO-standard SGML.
>The hope expressed with both of these formulations is that XML will be
used to
>mark up meaning rather than presentation. Without terribly much extension,
>'presentation' quickly comes to include syntactic forms, and there is a
>reasonable argument that the minimal definition in (a) is both as far as we
>should go in excluding presentation and as far as we can go while still
>some substance to call XML.

This encapsulates my views nicely. In fact I am in both camps.

With CML (unlikely though it may seem) we have to have an extremely fluid
DTD. That is because we don't understand chemistry. It was put well by
Democritos "Nothing exists except atoms and empty space - all else is
opinion". The Chemical Bond is simply an opinion and people fight about it
just as much as over XML matters. So CML is increasingly becoming very
sparse (atoms, bond and electrons, with a bit of geometry). That allows
authors free expression. 

OTOH for a pharma company producing a compound registry validation is
critical and I would support it.

I am increasingly doing work in XML for healthcare and in that area
validation is critical. I am constructing documents which may be included
in the regulatory process and this will be DTD-driven. My guess is that I
shall use a flexible componentised DTD for the initial design of a document
- in that way it can be done quickly and revised in real-time. When the
client comes to sign it off it can be transformed into a really rigid tool
if required.

I am sure that we shall not create a schism in the religious sense of the
world. It's possible that some tools may be WF-centric and others
DTD-centric. Hopefully many will do both. We could make a start (as we have
already discussed) about giving precise instructions to parsers.


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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