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   RE: "Clean Specs"

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  • From: Ronald Bourret <rbourret@ito.tu-darmstadt.de>
  • To: "xml-dev@ic.ac.uk" <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>, "'Don Park'" <donpark@quake.net>
  • Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 12:59:48 +0100

Don Park wrote:

> I do realize that the XML spec is leaky in certain respect but I felt it 
> very clear as a whole although I am unable to point out exactly what 
> it so.

If I may venture an opinion, the XML spec is sloppily written, informal, 
and poorly organized.  The namespaces spec is tightly written, 
well-organized, and relatively formal.  I believe it is the informality of 
the XML spec that makes it clear as a whole -- it certainly isn't the 

For example, at the end of section 2.8, we are told that an internal DTD is 
interpreted before an external DTD and that one consequence of this is that 
attributes in the internal DTD override those in the external DTD.  The 
spec doesn't need to tell us this consequence -- it can be determined from 
the statements that internal DTDs are interpreted first and that the first 
attribute declaration wins.  However, by telling us this and similar 
things, we are saved a lot of hard thinking and confusion and therefore are 
happier with the spec and understand it better.

The namespaces spec does this less often, but when it does, feels very 
approachable.  A good example of this is the statement in section 4 about 
operational difficulties when default attributes are declared in external 
DTDs.  The spec doesn't need to tell us this, but saves us a lot of time 
and pain when it does.

-- Ron Bourret

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