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RE: XML Blueberry

Title: RE: XML Blueberry

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Elliotte Rusty Harold [mailto:elharo@metalab.unc.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2001 9:35 AM
> To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: XML Blueberry
> The concern with respect to IBM is that one of the world's largest
> corporations, with thousands of patents, legions of programmers,
> billions of dollars in revenue, and resources pouring out of every
> orifice is somehow unable to handle documents where lines end with
> carriage returns and line feeds, as they do on every non-IBM system on
> the planet. The only reason there's a problem here at all is
> because IBM
> tried to go it alone as a monopoly and set standards by fiat for years

Yeah yeah yeah ... but for better or worse, there is an AWFUL lot of text and software out there that uses those conventions. Most of it is hidden in the machine rooms of the world, out of sight and mind of ordinary nerds like most of us, but it's there nonetheless ... and XML is at least being marketed to the people who use it as a way to help them communicate with the rest of the world. The authors of XML very sensibly chose to respect the line ending conventions of Unix, MS, and Macintosh. These were all set "by fiat", no?  Were Microsoft's line ending conventions established and maintained by any more democratic and non-monopolistic process than IBM's? What is so wrong with correcting some small oversights on the part of the XML 1.0 WG *before* there is so much XML software out there written by companies that are out of business, or for which the source code has been lost, that it really does become economically impossible to break it?

I don't know enough about the mainframe world to state definitively, but I strongly suspect that small changes to XML will cause much less total disruption than asking for changes by IBM (which they can obviously afford!) *and* the corresponding updates by all their customers.  I suspect that we will all be better off in the long run by making XML mainframe-friendly than demanding that the mainframes become XML-friendly.

> But wait! It's not even that bad. Several of the languages listed are
> total red herrings.

This is an area that I know even less about, but I have been burned repeatedly  by taking the same position as Elliot Rusty Harold does.  As I understand it, the principal reason that people care about the characters that are not in Unicode 2.0 is that they are widely used in proper names, and people (and companies) *care* if they are constrained against using their names in electronic communication.  I don't disagree that as a practical matter the people affected might well be content with the fact that this only affects their ability to define names (of elements and attributes) not actual text values.  Nevertheless, as with line endings, why not bite the bullet now and make XML Unicode 3.0-friendly and get on with life? It's one of those issues that will require more energy to argue about than to fix, I suspect.

There's a larger issue here.  XML 1.0 is a W3C "Recommendation", not an international standard.  It was well-grounded in concrete SGML experience, and has proven remarkably useful in practice.  We can greatly respect the effort and knowledge that went into it without believing that its authors were omniscient.  I personally don't care one way or the other about any of the new "Blueberry" requirements, but let's be utterly pragmatic about whether "fixing" XML, or forcing various constituencies that were not considered by the authors of XML 1.0 to adapt to it, is better for everyone in the long run.