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   'resolved' SGML

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: Xml-Dev <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Date: Wed, 02 Aug 2000 23:14:31 -0400

At 10:53 AM 8/3/00 +0800, Rick JELLIFFE wrote:
>It is a practical necessity: SGML-on-the-Web has
>to be resolved SGML. 
>It is the reason why three things were removed from XML: SDATA entities
>was one, IGNORE/INCLUDE marked sections in instances was another, and
>just I forgot the third before typing it.  (That DTDs are optional also
>shows that strongly-typed read-write considerations did not have
>So, apart from going through archives or talking to people, the premises
>of XML can be found by figuring out what XML substracted from SGML.  I
>leave this as an exercise for the reader.  XML substracted features
>needed for unresolved documents, because they were not what XML was
>about (at the time).  (XML was initially a delivery mechanism for data
>kept or maintained in SGML'86 or other structured formats, in the minds
>of many I think. )  

Perhaps from the perspective of SGML, XML looks resolved.  To some of us
who came from formats (HTML, plain text, etc.) that lack 'information set'
contributions coming from outside of the main document flow, XML looks
extraordinarily unresolved.

This lack of resolution - and the options XML leaves that may interfere
with such resolution, adding a certain amount of parser variability to such
resolution - leaves me perpetually aghast by the way certain people wave it

I wouldn't mind having a genuinely 'resolved' format - after all, Common
XML core is pretty much exactly that.  But having a partially resolved
format, and then failing to provide the tools need to complete that
resolution strikes me as downright devious.

While yes, perhaps SGML-on-the-Web has to be 'resolved SGML', XML doesn't
fulfill that promise.  The Infoset appears to pretend that it does, and
goes further than XML's rules for non-validating parsers in making it look
that way, but it still seems an attempt to paste a 'resolved' face on a
seriously 'unresolved' format.

[and yes, I know HTML uses attribute defaulting, but we were never taught
to think of it as _added_ information.]

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


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