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   Re: XML complexity, namespaces (was WG)

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  • From: Marcelo Cantos <marcelo@mds.rmit.edu.au>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Sun, 21 Mar 1999 17:06:42 +1100

On Sat, Mar 20, 1999 at 01:52:46PM +1300, Andrew McNaughton wrote:
> > At 02:46 PM 3/19/99 -0600, Paul Prescod wrote:
> > >In other words, XML is as asymmetric as SGML. Actually neither is
> > >really very asymmetric because you can't (well, shouldn't) get
> > >data into them before you have designed your document type. So
> > >input and output are both pretty difficult if you compare them,
> > >say, to Microsoft Word which is usually the benchmark people use
> > >to demonstrate how hard SGML systems are to build.
> > 
> > Ah, but if MS Word had a simple "Save-To-XML" option that let
> > users save their documents using markup based on the styles
> > they've built.  Three times now, I've seen organizations that had
> > done a lot of very good informal work with Word styles, and no
> > easy path for those structures or the documents that use them to
> > move to XML.  I guess the incentive just isn't there for MS to
> > make life easy.  There are tools to do it, but it's still not much
> > fun.  (Another painful case of asymmetry.)
> > 
> > Simon St.Laurent
> Word does have a "Save to RTF" which looks like it could be useful
> as an intermediate step.

It is, in part.  We have developed an extensive legislation management
package for the Tasmanian government (an Australian state, for those
who don't know).  The drafters use word with a collection of macros to
create the appropriately constrained styles and formatting for export
to RTF.  The RTF is then translated into an SGML document using custom

It is an ugly solution, and a far cry from the utopia of a mainstream
SGML editor, but it works, and it is only ugly for the implementors --
the users love it (more accurately, the users are oblivious to the
ugliness; I have no idea whether they love it or not).


P.S.: For those interested in legislation, the Tasmanian legislation
system is, AFAIK, the first body of government law in the world to go
online.  EnAct (the product we built on top of SIM) is enshrined in
law as the official source of legislation, it is not a mere copy of
some hard copy.  Better still, anyone on the web can query it.  It
also supports point-in-time queries (e.g. you can query on the law as
it was two years ago).  Go to http://www.thelaw.tas.gov.au/ to have a
go at it.



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