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An open plea to the W3C (was Re: XInclude vs SAX vs validation)

[Elliotte Rusty Harold]

>I'm not disagreeing that comments shouldn't have been put in the infoset. 
>However, since they are in the infoset now, they are in other specs (i.e. 
>XInclude) and I think APIs should be expressive enough to allow us to 
>fully implement W3C specs.

Supporting all of XML 1.0 is completely laudable but there is a slippery 
slope here that I think needs to be
pointed out.

Here is the problem:
         XML is simple - apart from all the bits that are not so simple:-)

         The not-so-simple bits are not used by the majority but are used 
by disjoint bands of minorities.

         Things need to be built on top of XML (validation, linking, 
styling, uniquification of names, addressing) etc. so...

         Smart people figure out to make these things support *all* of XML 
1.0 including the complex, uncommon bits

         With each new layer, supporting *all* of XML 1.0 creates more and 
more complexities

         The majority, who only use the simple pieces of XML 1.0, trust 
that the smart people are doing the right thing and
         run with it.

         Finally, the majority, bowled over by the complexity of it all, 
seek solace...

         They find it in the open arms of proprietary APIs promoted by vendors
         They find it in the tools they can buy that "hide the complexity 
of X*"

         They end up in the same proprietary mess they looked to XML to 
         themselves from!

Maybe it is not too late. The W3C could stop for breath and find out what 
pieces of XML 1.0
the majority *really* use. Don't ask vendors - they are not a reliable 
source of information. Don't ask
consultants, their business case is based on complexity. Don't ask 
theoreticians, they
find it all easy (and even if they don't they will probably say they do as 
they have
egos like the rest of us and they are paid to be really smart).

Instead, ask XML users. Zoom in on the uncommonly used bits that cause the 
most problems
for the ancillary specifications  Work towards issuing new iterations of 
the core specifications
that take things OUT rather than add stuff in. A bold, brave step that 
would differentiate
W3C from all the previous tower-of-babel standards bodies.

Do it as an experiment. Do it as a controlled fork. If it does not yield 
benefits, scrap it.

Dare to do less. That is what made the web so great in the first place.

Do it before vested interests grab the initiative.

Do it before it is too late.