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   RE: external parsed entites (was: A unique ID question ?)

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  • From: "Gavin Thomas Nicol" <gtn@ebt.com>
  • To: <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 00:45:30 -0500

> Or the 1913 Websters Dictionary, about 30 entities of 1.5 Mbytes
> each, http://metalab.unc.edu/webster/ ... and I'd hate to ever
> see that turn into one 55 MByte file!
> On a smaller scale, Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" is
> online at http://www.megginson.com/texts/darkness/index.html
> Surely there are more.  Nothing to be afraid of with a tool
> that's used appropriately!

Exactly. I was one of the XML WG members that argued for entities
very strongly... mostly because from my experience, they are 
very useful. 

SGML external entities are far more dangerous... they allow 
things that wouldn't even be well-formed XML entities (makes
database management of SGML *hard*). Even then, I have built 
systems that used entities as the primary object of reuse
(mostly publishing systems) and they worked fine... because
entities were largely transparent to the uninitiated.

The most radical thought I had for use of entities was in the
content of SMIL-ish things, where you might want to broadcast 
an XML/XHTML document. You could use entities to decompose a
document into chunks < 512 bytes each, and incrementally recompose 
the document in the receiver. This would require a default
entity resolution mechanism for undelcared entities to work
well... I proposed something like that to the XML WG if I
remember correctly...

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