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   Re: The Power of Groves

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  • From: Len Bullard <cbullard@hiwaay.net>
  • To: "W. Eliot Kimber" <eliot@isogen.com>
  • Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 19:25:17 -0600

W. Eliot Kimber wrote:
>... given that "element" is_a
> "node", I know things about elements simply because they are nodes. I
> can write generic software that can, for example, do addressing of
> element nodes without knowing anything about the semantics of elements.
> Groves and property sets are purely about using a common language to
> describe the characteristics of data instances so that generic software
> (e.g., a HyTime engine, a DSSSL engine) can process it and so that you
> can write processing standards without having to say anything about
> implementation-level data structures.

> Until you define what a node is, you have no formal basis for
> comparing two different "nodes". If you have such a definition then you
> can define a formal correspondence through a single common form.
> Otherwise you are faces with an N x N mapping.

> Common definitions: the Property Set Definition Requirements annex,
> which defines the basic rules for grove definition and (abstract)
> representation.

Then it seems to me this is a very good definitional tool for creating 
languages.  It would be a means to unify language definitions, proceed 
by common means, and have results which are clear, understandable, and 
implementable.  This would meet the needs as set forward by 
earlier posters about the lack of unity in W3C language standards.

Yet, David Megginson understands groves.  Paul Grosso understands 
groves.  Steve deRose understands groves.  Given such understanding 
and the influence of these and perhaps more of the W3C community, 
why are groves not applied to these problems?  I don't think a 
defense that starts "what problems?" is viable.  Too many reasonable 
and trained specialists on this list say the problems exist.

Are groves a suitable solution?  I need to 
answer Didier with the VRML metamodel so his excellent examples 
can be applied and Robin Cover can in his thorough way, harvest 
the results for study.  We have the basic idea as you have 
presented, but now we should step through some well known problems.
> Freakin' bite me. I didn't know about it, for whatever reason. 

Are you sure?  You have no idea where my teeth have been lately. :-)


I am *abusing* Eliot a little here because we need to have some 
better understandings in our community and this is an example 
of how easy the misunderstandings perpetuate, and in the rapid 
feedback of lists to lists to lists, amplify.
It is VERY possible that even where the community is small 
and as tightly knit as SGML was at that time, for efforts to occur 
that other members are completely unaware of.  It was more 
possible then because we did not conduct anywhere near as 
much business on lists.  There are always the *conspiracies* 
of ego and money, but apart from these,  parallel 
duplicative efforts just happen.  That is a given.

What we should not allow, and only by some concerted effort 
can we stop, is to proceed in parallel efforts without 
common definitions, particularly when these exist, and the 
expertise to use them exists.  It is not the power of 
groves that holds my interest; it is the way of groves.

OASIS owns this list now.  OASIS emerged from the SGML infrastructure.  
It has new blood and the W3C has XML but some part of 
OASIS should honor its origins.   If OASIS wants to be 
a force for open standards, wants to own processes, and wants, 
even desperately needs the resources of XML DEV, then it 
should be very cognizant of the requests from this 
list to ensure open processes.  If the current polity 
cannot do this, then the tools that ISO created such as 
groves to ensure open, coherent standards should be 
used by a more resilient community, dedicated, willing 
and able to carry out the work unafraid of the press, 
the whispers of powers from MIT, the incursions of 
the powers from Silicon Valley and Redmond, unafraid 
of anything but exhaustion.  Megginson can't carry 
the load for SAX, but I too, like Simon, would think twice 
about surrendering it if it goes behind closed doors. 

And I, like Steven and Eliot, believe we should consider 
the tools made available, freely, openly, and by dint 
of years of hard work.  I do not, like others, think that 
we are making this up as we go.  SAX was done 
here.  Xschemas were done here before they were turned 
over to the W3C.  The existence proof refutes the 
position that we are making this up as we go.

You do know how.

Getting DSSSL and SGML to cohere took tremendous effort from 
a small group of people, and even though they had to inform 
each other, and sometimes be reminded of responsibilities, 
they did it.   We have incredible resources that did not 
exist then, yet it seems, we make mistakes which we can 
easily avoid given the resources left to us by that group.   
Using the analogy given by Gates in the Pirates 
of Silicon Valley (whatever..), is as if XML burgled the house of 
SGML, but took the TV and left the diamond pendant on the 
kitchen counter.

Groves.  Let's keep going in this thread and see if it 
is the jewel.

Back to VRML.  I still need to respond to Didier and 
for me, this list is the after hours hobby I wish 
it were not. 



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