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   Clarification (was Re: Gutenberg Project <longish>)

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  • From: David Megginson <david@megginson.com>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: 10 Mar 2000 06:30:24 -0500

"Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com> writes:

> At 10:32 PM 3/9/00 +0000, Sebastian Rahtz wrote:

> >lets not pretend that XML is a language for humans, please...
> Sorry Sebastian, it may not fit your vision of the computing universe, but
> the fact that mere mortals can work with XML in a text editor is one of its
> greatest selling points, in my experience.

Wow, this has sure spun out of control from my original suggestion.

Frank had mentioned that Gutenberg was considering defining and
documenting its own vocabulary, and he listed requirements that were a
very close match to TEI.  I suggested that with TEI at one extreme and
XHTML at the other (not to mention the Open eBook stuff, which I
didn't mention) the world didn't need Yet Another XML Vocabulary for
literary texts, and that all the effort of defining and documenting
might be wasted.

I'll take the blame for simply assuming that people would understand
that that does *not* mean that people have to mark up texts in TEI or
TEI-lite or XHTML by hand, much less use or understand the whole of

As Liam suggested, it makes the most sense to define an extremely
simple XML vocabulary for typical markup cases, and then to convert
to, say, a TEI subset (using XSLT or something else) before putting it
on the Web.  In the rare cases where the text needs hairier markup
from the start (i.e. parallel translations), you'll need a volunteer
who understands TEI, but those cases are rare enough.

In other words, someone doing the initial markup on Heart of Darkness
should use a really simple format like this:

  <!DOCTYPE dumbbook SYSTEM "dumbbook.dtd">



  <title>Heart of Darkness</title>
  <author>Joseph Conrad</author>
  <transcription>David Megginson</transcription>
  <source>FooBar edition, 1912</source>



  <p>The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a
  flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind
  was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for
  it was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide.</p>

  <p>The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the
  beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the
  sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space
  the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to
  stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of
  varnished spirits. A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to
  sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and
  farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding
  motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth.</p>






It's no big deal for one of us to write an XSLT or even Perl script to
change that to TEI or XHTML for online publication.  Why spend the
(enormous amount of) time to define, document, and maintain a new
exchange vocabulary?  Users are alreay complaining that there are too
many XML vocabularies that do the same thing, and that XML isn't
really bringing them any interoperability.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david@megginson.com

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