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Re: SAX Filters for Namespace Processing

Eric Bohlman wrote:
> Wait a minute.  Does "easily" mean that somebody ought to be able to edit or read an arbitrary
> fragment of a document without understanding the document itself?  I don't think *anyone* ever
> promised that sort of "ease," as if it were even achievable.  Can one meaningfully edit a document

Then why have structural delimiters that are based on human-readable
textual messages?  Why not just force all tags to be a number that can
be looked up in a separate table for their meaning?  One of the points
of the mass adoption of XML was that its verbosity made the task of
interpreting the meaning of a document much more easy because the data
was self-describing, and because many of the structural exceptions that
had been a part of SGML had been removed.  Otherwise, we could have just
attempted to revive SGML, which would have been a colossal failure.

> written in a natural language that one doesn't understand?  I resent the implication that "ease of
> use" for a tool refers to the ability of someone who doesn't understand the *task* to use it.

Never implied that.  I'm saying that XML has gotten to the point where
its simplicity has been totally obscured by the complexity of peripheral
layers that can't easily be removed once you've introduced at least one
of them.  Personally, I resent that academics force average users to put
up with various levels of cerebral mind flexing by academics, just for
the sake of having to prove that you're smart and that you are capable
(though not really) of producing a 100% solution.

Sure, when you don't want somebody to perform a task, because you hold
some proprietary intellectual domain over it, you make the task as
complex as possible in order to keep others from understanding it, and
thus maintain your status as 'expert' of that task.  Subliminally, this
is what many programmers have done in the past.  It's called job

> There's an old saying that if you design a system that an idiot can use, only an idiot would *want*
> to use it.  We all accept, for example, that the user of a word processor needs to understand that

Really... Systems like HTML are incredibly simple, allowing the level of
user to range from complete idiot to total genius.  If this saying were
true, the only way the world wide web would have been acceptable to
'intellectuals' is if it had been as complex as TBL's current dreams of
a Semantic Web.   But the fact that it was simple and presented few
barriers to entry other than an HTTP server and a text editor, made the
internet what it is today.  

Or how about a system like a mouse trap.  Very simple... a piece of
wood, a spring, and a trigger.  Many people have tried to build a better
one, and usually their ideas have to do with a system much more complex,
but the fact is, a mouse trap, though crude, and fairly barbaric does
the job.  It's easy to set up, and it isn't very expensive.  That's why
people from complete idiots to total geniuses use them.

> if he defines some terms in one paragraph, uses them in a subsequent paragraph, and then cuts-and-
> pastes the latter paragraph to a point before the one that contains the definitions, he's messed up
> the document.  We don't declare a document "hard to edit" or "hard to read" simply because it's not
> robust to an arbitrary permutation of its contents (that is, unless we're academic postmodernist
> rebels looking for a cause).

Not really the point.  I understand where you're going, but the
application of natural language is a very narrow problem domain, one
where the rules are quite clear, and where the data that is being used
always has a context.  When we're talking about XML, we can't make those
same assumptions, as the applications of XML aren't in XML itself, but
in the grammars that are being developed using XML.  To make statements
like 'cutting and pasting is bad in natural language, so it's bad in
XML' is an arrogant generalization without knowledge of specific role
that XML is playing in any grammar that it defines.

> If the IT community thought that XML would enable clue-free processing of data, that's its fault,
> not the XML community's.  What the XML community promised and what business journalists wrote about
> XML are two completely different things.

That's like a car dealer saying "If we say a car is safe, but the buyer
doesn't ask 'how safe', then we're not responsible if it explodes when
they turn the ignition"  Regardless of who promised the IT community
what, we have built it and they have come.  Now we have a responsibility
to give users what they want, and not what we want to give them.  If we
wanted this to be a private club for academics to pontificate and beat
their chests about how friggin' smart they are, we could have just as
easily designed another binary format.  Oh, and the IT community IS the
XML community.  A technology community does not consist of just the
authors.  Even moreso, it is about the users of that technology, because
without them, we wouldn't have a pedestal to stand on.  Statements like
this, just help to widen the gap between the authors and the users, and
the further the gap gets, the more out of touch we are with our

> Once again, meaning is determined by context in *any* language.  One of the characteristics of XML
> is that position-in-hierarchy conveys meaning.  If you don't like that, then remember that dots are

Again, not really my point.  It was argued that namespaces are
essentially the determining factor of what an element 'means' in a
specific context, and that is in no way an absolute truth.

-- Tom