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   Limericks and XML...

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As I have been following the more academic threads involving limerick
validation and representation in XML, one thought keeps  coming into my
mind:  Why XML in the first place?  Sure, it can be done.  But should it?
After all, while XML is generic in nature, that does not mean that it can or
should be applied to all things.  XML makes sense when you are trying to
pass purchase orders around or when you want to annotate a document and so
on.  But does that mean it is just as good a technology to use for a
limerick or haiku?

The more I think about it, the answer is "not really".  Sure, it is a good
academic exercise.  But it doesn't really seem all that practical.  When it
comes down to it, about as far as I would go would be something like:

<poem type="limerick">
    There was a young lady named Bright
    Whose speed was much faster than light.
    She set out one day,
    in a relative way,
    And returned on the previous night.

And I would only bother doing this if the poem were part of something
larger, maybe a collection of poems or something.  Putting any more effort
into an XML structure or schema definition for the limerick defeats the
purpose of using XML to simplify.

And suppose I am wrong (because I probably am to some/many people).  If you
go the other route, where it makes perfect (or at least good) sense to store
a limerick in XML format, then why discuss whether a user would want to type
the limerick as a whole or in pieces to accomodate XML?  A limerick would
always be typed in as a whole.  It is up to the software to process it as
appropriate when storing it in XML format. The program may validate the
limerick and store it in the format shown above.  On the other hand, it may
store it in a format like the following:

<poem type="limerick">


In fact, the XML format may look very different under different systems just
becaus they have different needs.  But the user will still see the limerick
as it is, regardless of what is underneath.  The point here is that the user
of the software doesn't care what the format of the underlying limerick is
any more than another user would care what a SOAP message looks like.

I guess what I am getting at here is that the conversations about limericks
(and more generically, poems) and XML representation have started by
overlooking the first question to ask:  is there any advantage to doing this
in XML?

And when the answer is "yes" (as has been assumed for the sake of argument
in the prior posts), then the next question that seems to have been
overlooked is:  what is the primary intent or need that needs to be examined
when choosing the XML representation?  (you can be sure that it has nothing
to do with the end-user.  it never does.)

Well, I could be wrong about all of this...

Seairth Jacobs


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