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   Re: Pontifications on the Perversity of Pedantry, Punditry, and Purple

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  • From: Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net>
  • To: ",XML-DEV (E-mail)" <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 01:47:26 -0500

Michael Champion wrote:
> While Tim, Paul, and Rick fight it out for the crown of Principal Pundit of
> Pedantry, I feel compelled be a bore and point out that the legions of
> software
> developers working with XML these days generally aren't amused by this
> stuff.

You can find a situation amusing without being happy with it.

> ...
> In other words, don't whine about IE5 not conforming to the
> standard; it will BE the "standard" that people care about if the W3C
> standards continue to require annotation by gurus, deconstruction by
> pundits, and exegesis by experts in order to be useful.

XML does not require any of that. And it seems quite popular.

> Is there any chance that future versions of the XML Recommendation and/or
> the InfoSet will deprecate the weird terminology in favor of the
> conventional language of mathematics/software engineering? 

I would be amazed. Changing standards is a pain in the butt and is
seldom undertaken purely for clarity. Do you think that the DOM group
would rename "tag name" to "element type name" since it is clearly not
the "tag" that is being named? 

> ... e.g., call a
> tag a "tag" and an "XML element information item" a "node" like God
> intended?  

If we start calling element types "tags", then what will we call tags?
"Element delimiters?"

And if we call information items "nodes" does that imply a unification
of the data models used in the information set, the DOM, XPath and XQL?

> Will anyone lobby/vote against future Proposed
> Recommendations until they are written in a language comprehensible to
> ordinary mortals who have not labored in the mines of SGML/XML for years?

One minute you're complaining about the fact that new specifications
innovate in terminology and then you're complaining that they are too
mired in history!
> Does anyone else care about this besides Nils Klarlund and the usual
> suspects on SML-DEV??  If so, what is to be done?

I care first about consistency. I hate the fact that the W3C specs are
totally inconsistent between them. I'll admit, however, that I am more
pissed off about the problems that the data model inconsistency gives me
at the programming level than I am about terminological inconsistency.
Solve the first problem and the second will follow. Solve the second
first and things get MORE confusing, not less. (you say element, I say
element but we mean different things)

The "grove guys" said that there should be no ambiguities about the data
model at all. I still believe that each and every W3C specification that
should have a formal and comprehensive data model section to go along
with the syntax section.

Early ambiguities were the start of the problem. The lateness of the
infoset was a second part. Premature (relative to the infoset)
standardization of the DOM was the third. The infoset is still not
comprehensive. That will cause further problems as we go forward.

These problems are not going to bring XML to its knees. We will just
work around them as we have been. It's just annoying.

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for himself
It's difficult to extract sense from strings, but they're the only
communication coin we can count on. 
	- http://www.cs.yale.edu/~perlis-alan/quotes.html

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