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   Re: Its the semantics dummy :-)

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  • From: Jonathan Borden <jborden@mediaone.net>
  • To: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>, xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2000 20:43:53 -0400

Simon St. Laurent wrote:

[Jonathan Borden]:
> >It is always
> >possible to send a perfectly well formed XML document that is totally
> >useless e.g.
> ><doc> <byte>67</byte> <byte>121</byte>... </doc>
> Uselessness is in the eye of the beholder, and MIME only takes you to the
> doucment container, not to its contents.  67 121 might be a very important
> code to me.

The point being that this document is no less difficult to understand than a
pure binary document consisting of byte after byte. The fact that one
document is XML or the other document can be sent using base64 encoding over
text based SMTP makes no substantial difference (and one can quite easily
convert between the two formats).

> (Ever hear of those radio stations broadcasting only numbers?)
> >The point is that some people might view XML as just a bunch of pointy
> >brackets, and so what if the syntax is perfect *who cares*. Suppose your
> >English syntax is perfect but you have nothing to say? What do I care
> >syntax?
> If you have an important message to get to me, and you use German syntax,
> can promise that you'll be disappointed even if you use English

Yes, that's it!! The point being that this XML stuff is useful when I have
an important message, the fact that it is important implies that it has
meaning, i.e. semantic content.

> I'd
> much rather you send me material in XML - even if I don't know the
> semantics beforehand.

Err, it depends. If I send you an order for 10,000,000 copies of your book,
requesting that you phone me within one day with a Swiss bank account number
that I will deposit your payment into  or else forget the deal, would you
prefer I send it as a MIME e-mail (Content-type: text/plain) or as some form
of obfuscated XML, say an encoding, but only I know how to decode it, and
all you get is some stinking XML document which you haven't a clue what to
do with.

> I'll take my syntax before my semantics, thank you.

I''l take my syntax with semantics, thank you.

Jonathan Borden


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