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   SGML, XML and SML

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  • From: Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 10:44:30 -0600

Len Bullard wrote:
> suggested to the EDI committees that markup was preferable, it was
> dimissed as an irrelevant text format.  When I was at the PDES meetings
> when SGML was first considered, it was only as a string alternative
> to the somewhat byzantine document model they were building.  No, Paul,
> two things made the EDI folks take it seriously:  

The "EDI folks" are not the drivers of electronic commerce. GM is
partnered with CommerceONE and Ford is partnered with Oracle. The EDI
people are merely falling into line.

> Common LISP comes to mind.  S-expressions, as Dan Connoly told me, are
> the highest form.  Why not LISP?  Well, because HTML wasn't written
> in LISP.  As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

LISP S-expressions have three problems:

 * even more stigma than SGML
 * as you say, angle brackets were king
 * no schema language

But yes, if Microsoft had backed s-expressions, XML would not be where
it is today. And nobody would be whining that XML is way too large and
complicated for many applications. That might be a good thing.
DSSSL-style S-expressions would be MUCH better for representing property
relationships than XML is, and property relationships are pretty central
to e-commerce and all sorts of machine to machine communication.

SML people: think on this.

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for himself
Bart: Dad, do I really have to brush my teeth?
Homer: No, but at least wash your mouth out with soda.

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