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Mike Champion wrote:
> The notion of "smart ASCII" as a way of creating structured documents
> [ ... elided ...]
> guess is that is makes a LOT of sense for simple documents (memos,
> weblogs, simple articles) and virtually no sense for serious
> technical documents where the whole point of SGML/XML is to catch the
> structural errors as early and automatically as possible even if this
> requires some pain on the part of the authors. But how big is the
> middle ground, and when does it pay to make authors switch over to
> XML? In other words, should XML stay in the background, or is it time
> for the end-users to add basic markup knowledge to their repertoire
> of skills?
It's a trade-off, of course. You have to balance the
training costs and tool costs against productivity
I'm not sure the middle ground is so much defined by
the complexity or richness of the final (XML) product
as it is by the percentage of a contributor's time that
is spent generating and modifying specialized content.
B-Bop has certainly found a market niche for its MS Word
to XML product. Customers are willing to put a little
work into defining Word templates when they understand
that they can get a decent up-translation to a target
document type and their content providers can use the
tools with which they are already competent.
I don't expect the casual user to ever become comfortable
with angle brackets, let alone dig the zen of
Someday, XML editors may become cheaper to learn and use,
or perhaps MS Word will evolve a structured editing mode.
We're not there yet, and by focusing on reliability, and
ease of configuration, there'll be room in the middle for