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   Re: Its the semantics dummy :-)

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2000 21:04:00 -0400

At 08:43 PM 7/31/00 -0400, Jonathan Borden wrote:
>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).

But none of those is capable of generically-understood internal structure.
They're _just_ bytes.

>> 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.

Er, no.  You can send me the message in German using German syntax, and I
won't understand it any better than if you'd sent it to me in English using
German syntax.  Your disappointment has very little to do with my
understanding of the semantics, if I can't get through the syntax.

>> 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.

If you want to deliberately obfuscate your message, sure.  But heck, I'm
the wrong guy to call up for 10 million copies of my books.  I'd try
calling Special Sales at IDG or McGraw-Hill, and I'm _sure_ they can get
you a better discount.  (They don't speak XML at all there, so the only
usable syntax is likely text/plain.)

For 10 million copies, I suspect they could find their way to at least 75%
off, maybe more.  It wouldn't be as good for me, but it would definitely
pay for a new kitchen, maybe a workshop in a standalone garage so I
wouldn't wake my wife up on Sunday mornings.

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

I can do things with pure syntax that I can't do with pure semantics, so
I'd like my meal in a more reasonable order, thanks again.

Simon St.Laurent
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books


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