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   RELAX and Evolutionary somethingorother

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I'm a bit distressed to see the list wander off into the Capitalism
thread, but hey, at least the posts aren't in rhyme!

Anyway, I think the original issue of the Capitalism thread
is worth returning to: what do we know about how technology, business,
society, and/or knowledge evolves that would shed light on whether
RELAX NG is a viable technology in which to invest time, money, and "love"?

* If you believe some crude notion of international capitalism calling the 
shots, it's not worth discussing.  The unholy Redmond - Redwood Shores - Armonk 
- Davos alliance seems to have already chosen W3C XSD, so get to work figuring 
it out!

* If you believe that "beauty equals truth" 
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/26/science/26MATH.html and truth will prevail, 
bet on RELAX NG and start writing tools to support it.

* If you think the world is more complex, and that both the private agendas of 
the huge companies (who, let's face it, drove the W3C XSD requirements and are 
its stauchest defenders) and the selection process driven by the
Blind Watchmaker / Invisible Hand  will interact to 
determine RNG's fate, we've got a lot to think about.  

First, what are the needs that drove the requirements for XSD so far beyond what 
most of us think of as the 80/20 point?  AFAIK, it was a) the need to map 
complex databases and enterprise application data to XML so that data could be 
mapped to exchanged across systems and applications ... and b) the need to 
support schema evolution more cleanly, i.e. make minor changes to RDBMS or XML 
schemas without breaking everything or forcing a simultaneous update of systems 
all over the world.  Does XSD really meet those needs?  Can it be implemented 
consistently to do so?  Sooner or later I have to think that it will ... either 
the spec will be revised by the W3C or (more likely?) some sort of informal 
"schema interoperability organization" will figure out the profile of the W3C 
spec that meets the real needs of the Big Guys.

Second, how long will that take? The hype machine giveth, but the hype machine 
taketh away, and one can imagine the "buzz" turning against W3C and XSD and 
mega-XML in the meantime.  Will that happen?  That depends on whether you think 
of the creators of buzz/hype as the paid servants of the Big Guys or not.  I 
personally don't ... I think that hype has a life of its own, but since XML/XSD 
is supported by EVERYBODY and nobody but a few lonely voices in the wilderness 
is objecting, one can make a plausible argument that this time the hype cycle 
won't slide down the trough of disillusionment.  We shall see.

IMHO, in the long run, the Blind Watchmaker beats the monopolists and the 
hypemeisters every time. Complex systems (or specification) will only survive if 
they are assembled out of reliable components that can stand on their own.  If a 
spec or a product is propped up only by monopolistic business practices or paid 
hypesters, sooner or later the environment will change, and systems and 
subsystems will have to survive on their intrinsic merits.  Herbert Simon's 
essay "The Architecture of Complexity" (I like this summary: 
http://www.netage.com/Learning/Publications/Seybold/Seybold9_2-90.html) is the 
classic explanation in the context of computer science.

I don't know whether RNG will "win", or XSD will be cleaned up and rebuilt out 
of more reliable components, or (most likely) the best features of both will be 
subsumed by some trancendent synthesis that we can't yet envision.  I simply 
can't imagine RNG becoming irrelevant, however.  It seems worthy of study and 
support; even if what we use in 5 or 10 years is not called "RELAX", it will owe 
much to the efforts of Murata, Clark, et. al.    



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