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History Part Quatre: Keeping Decisions In Scope (Was: Re: Reques tfor info about parser construction details)
- From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <email@example.com>
- To: Rick Jelliffe <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
- Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2001 10:37:45 -0600
Right, but to be fair, when Charles had to make
that unhappy and forced decision, getting syntax agreement was
impossible. There were only a few large vendors to cope
with and they resisted cooperation fiercely. SGML spent
years wallowing in the "It's an IBM thing.." propaganda
even though the complexity of SGML enabled enormous numbers of
choices. The graphics committees were dead set against it,
the PDES/STEP guys were dead set against it, the notion
of unification by syntax was heresy, but really, it
was authority against authority. Markup survived only
because it became damm near a religion for a small group
and because DoD and certain large companies began to
realize they needed a lever against the proprietarization
of their informaton assets by their vendors. Cost of
the lifecycle was the irritant.
On the other hand, when Jon started gathering troops, he had
two big advantages;
1) Consensus on the web as the media, thus SGML On the Web,
scoped the decisions to a single if large system.
2) The people who had to be convinced made up a remarkably
small group and mostly known practicioners as you
mention. That was a bizarre side effect of the
history of SGML: when the decision had to be made,
not too many people were even qualified to make it.
Even then, Jon, Paoli, Bray, Sperberg-McQueen,
etc. restricted the access to the core decision making
severely. Charles faced all of ISO down and had to
keep doing it for years. The XML core group could make
a proposal, Berners-Lee chose, and that was that.
Consensus was the key feature in both decisions.
Negotiations are only successful if scoped. This
is inserted into the record given that some are
scared to death of the consortia processes as
limiting access and others are scared to death
of opening that access.
Different contexts; different practices; same tech.
Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h
From: Rick Jelliffe [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
So can you see why XML was invented? Instead of Charles Goldfarb's unhappy
and forced starting position that people could never agree on syntaxes (see
MS' versions of HTML dumped from recent software, and SML-DEV for recemt
evidence of this) Jon Bosak started from with the idea "what if we could
get everyone to standardize on a particular profile of SGML...then we
wouldn't need highly parameterized document description languages (or at
least the description would be made once for all by the profile-creators not
by every user) and simple parsers could be written". The breakthrough in XML
is not the technology (lots of people have been doing stripped down SGML for
years) but the concensus Jon was able to get up. (Of course, Jon could not
have gotten that agreement without there being a lot of lessons learned from
full SGML concerning which features are most useful.)