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RE: The SAX2 standard ? (was SAX2 bugs -- please file!)

From: Nicolas LEHUEN [mailto:nicolas.lehuen@ubicco.com]

Let's do this in order with some points up front.  Standards are 
legal documents.  Specifications are design documents.  Despite 
what you read, think or want to believe, the W3C is not a standards 
producing organization.  There are good reasons for that and the 
more people push the W3C to be that for whatever reason, the more
they weaken its ability to incubate technology.  Caveat vendor.

>1)  We really, really need a standard for this part. SAX is the de-facto
one for the moment.

SAX is a specification.  What would change if it were a standard?  What
be improved by any standards process?

>2) Yet, DOM is an "official" spec supported by the W3C,  whereas SAX is
>and gets to live on SourceForge. What will be the standardizing power of
>SAX community ? 

None.  Governments ratify standards.

>I mean, what guarantees that a vendor won't change the API
>to suit its own need, thus breaking all possibilities of tool chaining ?

Nothing guarantees that with a specification or a standard.  Conformance 
testing proves the case, but there is no enforcement other than the right 
to attach certain signs to the documents claiming such.  Nothing.

>If SAX is not a standard, what are we left with ? 

Precisely what you have today or implement tomorrow.

>How can we have high-level standards such as XML
>Schema, SOAP, etc. without having a standard for the very core building
>block that SAX is ?

By implementing or purchasing code that passes conformance tests.

>3) SourceForge is neutral, OK, but is it the purpose of the people at
>SourceForge to host standards ? Can they accept the responsibility of
>hosting such projects that may be central to the industry in the years to
>come ?

No.  They shouldn't.  This does point out the question one asks of the 
hosting authority:  show me the process that supports the lifecycle.

>4) Note the "official" in question 2. I'm very far from being an expert in
>standardization organisms, so please pardon me if I make mistakes, but
>shouldn't XML be an ISO / IEEE / other standard ? 

Just as ISO has a version of HTML, ISO could have a version of XML but 
since it already has SGML, and XML is a conforming subset, not much 
would change.  Independent consultants such as Tim Bray have vocally 
opposed XML standardization and it is not likely this issue will be 
brought up again for awhile.  Meanwhile, XML remains a product of 
the W3C and a conformant subset of ISO 8879 SGML.  This relationship 
is sufficient to ensure stability of the product.

>What are the historical reasons that gave the W3C control over the XML 
>standardization ? 

A self-selected group of SGML experts chose to create a specification for 
the W3C product and solicited and gained sufficient support from the 
SGML community, ISO and the W3C to create the XML specification.  

>What is the position of the
>"traditional" standardization organisms regarding W3C ? Does the industry
>consider the W3C as being pertinent for these issues ?

There are liaison relationships between standards organizations and the 
W3C.  Industry for the most part considers these pertinent and adequate. 
Some government standards bodies create standards by reference; that is, 
they create a standards document that references the W3C specifications 
are being authoritative for the technical information requirement to 
meet the standard's requirements.  The government body retains the 
authoritative position for the standard itself.

>5) I'm don't know much about SGML. What is the standardization level of
>technology ? Is it ISO, IEEE or something else ?

ISO 8879.

>6) learning that SAX is "only" a de facto standard hosted by benevolent
people is quite 

Perhaps.  But so far so good. 

>7)  What worries me here is the fact that the W3C is quite silent about
>What does this mean ?  

It is tacit acknowledgement that the W3C need play no active role in 
the specification of SAX.  Since there is considerable overlap among 
W3C, OASIS, ISO and independent members, there is considerable expertise 
among all of these groups on SAX.

>What kind of standardization dynamic does it expose ?

It exposes the fact that SAX is not a standard.  It exposes the lack 
of an immediate and pressing need to change that.

Len Bullard
Intergraph Public Safety

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