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   RE: working with text (was RE: [xml-dev] XPath 1.5?)

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On Tue, 2002-05-07 at 10:00, Matthew Gertner wrote:
> Total passionate disagreement.


> I can hardly think of any cases where
> processing an XML document *doesn't* require some kind of datatype
> information.

That's the problem.  I'm talking about representing information, which
is all that XML itself does.  As text, at that, quite explicitly. 
You're already on to processing.  Processing is a great topic, but very
different from representation.

> Storing the document to disk or transferring it as text,
> perhaps, but even when rendering a document in a browser you'll want to do
> formatting (as some have pointed out), in which case you need to know about
> the datatypes. IMO an XML document alone has about 10% of the value of a
> document with its schema. Since there is the possibility of having a single,
> canonical representation of the document semantics (specifically the
> datatypes in this case) in the form of a schema, why on earth would we
> reject this?

Because a single canonical representation, used the way you propose, is
an enormous pain in the ass to people whose representations are either
less canonical or differently canonical. 

If you want to have a schema, fine.  Consider it metadata, and keep it
out of the XML stage.  Apply it to the information you get out of the
XML, and go from there.  Not really a problem.

> Can you explain how explicitly this "bloated type infrastructure" is
> harmful, and what you can usefully do with an XML document without this
> information? Is this a criticism of the notion of a schema in general, or of
> XSD in particular?

Sure.  Typing is very useful for efficient information processing when
computers are not so good at multiplying strings.  It's a straitjacket
for information representation when processing constraints don't apply
to the representation itself.

XSD's integration with other XML specs is certainly worth criticism, but
strong typing of XML itself seems, well, just inappropriate and maybe
even silly.

Simon St.Laurent
Ring around the content, a pocket full of brackets
Errors, errors, all fall down!


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