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   RE: [xml-dev] Article: Keeping pace with James Clark

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True and true.  But this outlines an important 
point:  when it came time to use SGMLS in production, 
the ESIS stuff was invisible to the authors.  They 
saw the error messages.  Understanding ESIS did 
not help them debug the SGML.  Grosso explained 
the ESIS to me and that was for me, also, a nice 
aha moment, but it also seemed trivial, as if, 
ok, that's what I expected it to do, so? moment.  A parser 
feeding an application through a clean data model 
delights a programmer; a validator that clearly 
indicates what is wrong in the markup at what 
line in the text delights an author.  Who do you love?

XML has almost single handedly given markup 
the reputation of being "computer friendly 
and author unfriendly".  Why?  SGML was actually 
friendlier to authors and hard on the programmers. 
We know why.  It isn't always a good thing 
to insist on the programmer as the primary 
beneficiary.  HTML succeeded and continues to 
thrive because it is friendly to the author. 
XHTML is stricter, cleaner, and wallowing.  Why?

There is something to the saying that the 
middle class never give up their vices.


-----Original Message-----
From: Sean McGrath [mailto:sean.mcgrath@propylon.com]

[Len Bullard]

>I liked his reference to sgmls. He is right
>about the redoing of ARCSGML being a seminal
>event.  OTOH, ARCSGML had better error messages.
>There are some things lawyers do better than
>programmers. :-)

Ah, but the key thing about sgmls was that it emitted a simple, line-oriented
implementation of ESIS - an infoset.

I would argue that sgmls's crowning achievement was to add the infoset
to SGMLs core from a programmers perspective and then
expose it in a very programmer friendly way.

This was the biggest "aha!" moment of my markup career when it dawned on
me that the parser allowed me to think purely in terms of a hierarchical
data-model view of the world and ignore syntax.

Although technically speaking, ESIS is abstract and the line-oriented notation
produced by sgmls (and nsgmls, (and PYX)) are purely James's invention, 
many serious
dollars worth of production code is based on it and the term ESIS has become
essentially synonymous with James's notation for it.


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