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Re: XML and SGML

On Thursday 28 June 2001 07:56 pm, Marcus Carr wrote:
> Rod Davison wrote:
> > SGML is designed for document ion.
> While I agree with the rest of what Rod wrote, I think that the definition
> above might be a bit too narrow - I'd say that SGML was designed for
> information capture. While SGML was principally used for documentation,
> that was largely due to the lack of supporting technology - we knew how and
> why to capture it, but there just weren't many really interesting ways to
> use it.

Thinking about it, information capture is probably a better term because when 
I used "documentation" I had been thinking of the information repositories 
that were being set up in government and industry.  Of course those were so 
driven by things like DoD CALS with its heavy documentation emphasis that we 
all got a bit tag happy.  As for interesting ways to use the information, 
there was not a whole lot you really wanted to do with mounds of field 
maintenance manuals. 

> We demo'd a tool at some of the conferences in the mid nineties that did
> legislative updates. The structure and content of an amendment Act was used
> to generate an OmniMark script that was applied to the principal Act,
> updating it automatically. These could be chained together, allowing
> rolling control based on dates. While this type of markup wasn't front and
> centre, there were people using SGML for many of the same purposes that we
> now use XML. Still, we'd have killed for the range of tools available
> today...

This is exactly where I think SGML has so much power -- the ability to create 
documents (especially legislation and other legally binding documents that 
are amended and modified) that can be scrolled back and forward along a 
temporal dimension.  I've worked on a very similar app here.

I think XML has benefitted from the open source movement in terms of making 
tools available -- the price tags on SGML stuff was horrendous.

By the way -- just an interesting observation -- I live just down the street 
from the Omnimark head office -- it's comforting knowing that if I ever need 
them in the middle of the night, they're right there.