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   What a tangled web!!! XML and related specs

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  • From: David Megginson <david@megginson.com>
  • To: "Xml-Dev (E-mail)" <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 15:01:20 -0500 (EST)

Serrat Jaime - jasr writes:

 > As a relative newbie to XML, I've been wading through the XML 1.0
 > spec and related documents (notes, recommendations, etc.), mostly
 > at the W3C site.  Boy, am I confused!

Take it slow.  Like IP, XML is fairly simple; like IP, XML has a lot
of other stuff built on top of it that you can use if and only if you
want to.

Oh, yeah -- please ignore the notes unless you're doing cutting-edge,
speculative research.

 > I'm not only confused by the specific detail contents of the
 > respective documents, but perhaps more importantly, by the
 > *relationship* of the various docs to the others.  Does RDF extend
 > or replace DTD as specified in XML 1.0?

RDF is an XML-based format for a specific domain, metadata exchange.
It often makes sense for specific domains to have their own schema
formats, since an XML 1.0 DTD covers only basic structure and does so
in a very generic and low-level way.

 > Is SOX an alternative to both DTD and RDF?  What about Namespace
 > and DCD? 

SOX is just a note right now, and a member submission at that --
unless you're doing cutting-edge experimental research or planning to
write your own spec, it's best to ignore member submissions and wait
for actual recommendations.  Everyone is sending in XML-related
submissions these days, and most of them will die unimplemented (I
make no specific comment on SOX, positive or negative, but simply on
member submissions in general).

 > For that matter, what about the recent XML Schema Requirements
 > Note?  I guess I'm hoping someone will provide a spec roadmap.

Only for the XML Schema work itself.

Here's what you really have to know:

1. XML 1.0

2. Namespaces in XML, because it is used as a foundation by several
   other specs like RDF and XSL.

Here's what you might want to learn, depending on your requirements:

3. Document Object Model (DOM level one core), if you need a
   tree-based programming API for XML.

4. Simple API for XML (SAX 1.0, non-W3C), if you need an event-based
   programming API for XML.

5. RDF, if you need to exchange metadata.

Feel free to ignore everything else for now -- work on things like XSL
or XPointer is promising, but it's still far from the stable
recommendation stage, and in general lacks production-quality tool
support (so does RDF, mostly, but that's another sad story).  Other
specs cover specific document types, like XHTML, and you can ignore
those unless you need them.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david@megginson.com

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