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   Stylesheets considered limiting (was Re: XLink - where are we?)

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 08:53:40

At 21:04 11/11/98 -0600, W. Eliot Kimber wrote:

>I'm so focused on formatted presentation of the *content* I didn't think
>about these options. The first three sound quite reasonable. The last two

Thanks :-). I think there is a "feature" of the XML community that many of
the founders are heavily focussed on conventional paper-based formatting.
Jon Bosak's recent mail puts that very clearly. The design features of
Hybrick are also clearly geared towards that - it looks like a non-trivial
task for me to adapt it to chemical reactions, for example. [I may be
wrong, but without source and the very restrictive license I can't judge]. 

Nothing wrong with this view. People (even me) want to read paper. But I
certainly feel that almost everything else is seen as lower priority than
the holy grail of high-performance text formatting. And the policy makers
in the W3C community are very much oriented towards paper-like operations. 

2 years since the conception of XML and we cannot (with general agreement
on interoperability):
	- send a hyperlink over the wire
	- send a button over the wire
	- since a date over the wire
	- send a structured graphic over the wire
We *can* send a mathematical equation. 

This may sound unfair and - yes, I know - there are many things in the
pipeline but IMO the innovation that we saw 18 months ago is disappearing.
Essentially the vision of the XML process is often something like:
	original data -> XML ->+XSL-> output format (e.g. PDF/HTML/PS)

PDF/HTML is sent over the wire. The PS is printed and put in the mail.

	reader receives a dumb document

Yes, I know that there are XML-aware browsers and client side stylesheets
but the purpose of what Jon was describing is often so they can send it
straight to their local printer.

>are no different from requiring a style sheet--someone still has to provide
>a per-document or document type definition of what the styling should
>be--whether you use Jave code or DSSSL specs or XSL doesn't matter--the
>task is the same.

Nope. In Java the task for me is:
	- to identify how to map Java classes onto elements. I haven't followed
XSL but I assume it gives little or no help. 
	- how to create different on-line displays interactively. I'd like to
insert buttons where there are hyperlinks, for example. Is all that in XSL.

My concern about the word "stylesheet" is that it restricts our vision of
what is possible. And that the excitement of the whole XML effort will
disappear. Yes - I know XML is meant to be boring as many people have said
and sending pseudo-paper over the wire is not - yet - very exciting.

I am making the assumptions that a large  number of XML documents will
never have stylesheets. Very few do at the moment. So JUMBO was designed
with the idea that we will have to cope with documents **that do not have
stylesheets**. The current mainstream view - as exemplified by Hybrick -
seems to be that such a document is broken. I don't accept this :-) Maybe I
am just a niche player but it's a very large and exciting niche and anyone
who is interested is welcome to play :-)

>>- Yes I know there is movement in this area. I'd also like to see *some*
>>movement on 'behaviour' - how to we create an interactive document rather
>>than simply decide on the best way to send it to the printer (which will be
>>99% of the use of XSL).
>There is the ISMID (Interchange Standard for Modifiable Interactive
>Documents) that is being developed in SC34 of ISO/IEC JTC1. It's goal is to
>be a relatively simple application that lets you define more or less
>procedural behaviors for information objects (which could be XML documents
>or components thereof). It's still being firmed up, but it seems reasonably
>promissing.  I know the editors would certainly be interested in review and
>comment.  We've been reviewing the latest draft this week during the ISO
>meeting.  You can find the latest draft at
><http://www.ornl.gov/sgml/sc34/document/7.htm>.  As a reviewer, I've asked
>the editors to do a few things that will make the spec a bit more XML

Does this imply that it's not XML-compatible at present? Because I suspect
people will get increasingly frustrated with SGML-over-the-wire (e.g.
Hybrick at present) because they don't know how to manage declarations and


><Address HyTime=bibloc>
>W. Eliot Kimber, Senior Consulting SGML Engineer
>ISOGEN International Corp.
>2200 N. Lamar St., Suite 230, Dallas, TX 75202.  214.953.0004
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