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   Re: XML complexity, namespaces (was WG)

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  • From: Marcus Carr <mrc@allette.com.au>
  • To: Richard Goerwitz <richard@goon.stg.brown.edu>
  • Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 13:01:26 +1100

Richard Goerwitz wrote:

> You are right in observing that these industries have all profited from
> SGML-based descriptive markup.  You are wrong if you are also asserting
> that there isn't any room for dramatic improvement (e.g., in the area of
> schemas).

I completely agree that there's room for dramatic improvement. In fact, I consider myself to
be one of those SGML people who is encouraging XML's growth and development, not one clinging
desperately to a high-paying SGML job. (I think Sasquatch Inc. is hiring, but you have to be
willing to relocate to Loch Ness.)

> I come from a small shop that does a lot of SGML work.  Trust me:  SGML
> is complex and intractable.  Software that works with it is scarce and
> often expensive, and too often doesn't work very well.  Just because a
> giant telco firm can muster the personnel to deal with SGML doesn't make
> it a particularly elegant solution, except by way of comparison with
> approaches that use non-standard or presentation-focused languages.

I also come from a small company that has been making a living principally out of SGML for
almost a decade. I understand very well the complexity associated with SGML; I have been doing
it for very a long time. In my experience, large organisations tend to come to small firms
rather than implement solutions themselves - they're looking for elegance, not muscle.

> The growing realization that DTDs are insufficient for XML is not a
> result of mindless SGML bashing.  Nor does it represent a failure to ap-
> preciate how great a leap SGML was in the 80s.  This realization is,
> rather, just something implementors are coming to after painful experi-
> ences trying to make DTDs work with XML.

So... how do we get back to SGML people not having their eyes open? I accept and agree that
not everything about SGML works in XML. That's not the issue; not even the most fervent
supporter of SGML would argue that the issues are identical for SGML and XML. That's the whole

> I'm increasingly looking on the original SGML-compatibility goal for
> XML as a necessary political move - but one that should be shed at the
> earliest convenient opportunity.
> This doesn't mean we should shed all the experience that the SGML com-
> munity can bring to the table, of course.

Again, I don't necessarily disagree with either of these statements, but that wasn't what I
was posting about. I just think that we should be grown-up enough not to feel that we have to
eat our young (or in this case, our parents).


Marcus Carr                      email:  mrc@allette.com.au
Allette Systems (Australia)      www:    http://www.allette.com.au
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
       - Einstein

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