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   Subsetting/ Canonical Parsers/ XML Compliance/ etc.

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  • From: Seairth Jacobs <seairth@bbglobex.com>
  • To: xml-dev <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 11:21:15 -0500

Okay, so here are the two basic camps:
1) XML is a standard that should be conformed to 100% in parsers.  If it isn't going to be, then is should be called an "XML Parser".  Certainly, this is an ideal goal if you do not know how the parser will be used.  As a result, it needs to stay generic and expect to handle all combinations of needs.
2) XML is a recommendation that should be implemented in parsers as is appropriate to the situation.  It is still an XML parser of sorts, however.
The second camp is the way I choose to see XML.  For any particular implementation of XML, I define a DTD or Schema that fits my needs.  In my case, I deal exclusively with e-commerce markup and I use only a specific subset of the XML specification.  So I have two choices:  use a parser specific to my needs or use a general-purpose parser that will work of anyone.  While the latter will work, it is overkill (just like using an SGML parser would be overkill when processing XML).  My needs are fixed.  I will never receive XML that doesn't conform to the subset I use.  As a result, a parser that handles only that subset makes more sense.  Is it an actual XML parser?  Yes, since it does process certain XML.  No, since it doesn't process all XML.  But remember, I am only ever using certain XML, so from my point-of-view, the answer is "yes".
Everyone can complain until they are blue in the face about which is better.  In the end, it's a moot point.  If 1 million people use a special-purpose XML parser for a specific purpose, then that is absolutely fine.  It doesn't matter what the rest of the universe is doing with XML because it's not within their problem domain.  If there is cross-over of domains, then those people will use a different parser that fits their needs.
In the end, I would expect any development process to go something like this:
1) Define XML DTD or Schema.
2) Choose parser that will handle the application of this XML.
3) Implement XML using chosen parser.
If it means that someone uses more than one parser to get different jobs done, that's fine.  If it means that someone uses the "fully standard" parser to get different jobs done, that's fine as well.  In the end, deciding what subset of parser should be used for development is every bit as important as deciding what subset of XML should be used for DTD or Schema definition.
Seairth Jacobs


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