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   Re: [xml-dev] limits of the generic

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Norm Walsh writes:
> So in this world view, we have nothing more than labelled trees.
> I suppose that's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far.

It goes quite far enough for a lot of applications.  I have to admit
that I marvel at the amount of XML out there which gets by without so
much as a DTD.

> I work with lots of vocabularies, some of them fairly complex, I find
> it tremendously valuable to be able to describe a set of constraints
> on the labelled trees that I'm willing to process. I find it a
> thousand times more valuable because there's a fairly standard way of
> encoding this set of constraints so that all the people who use the
> tools I write can also test their documents. In particular, this means
> I can punt broken documents back to authors and say "no, that's not a
> bug in my tool, that's a broken document."

I'm not denying that such tools are useful occasionally.  I'm saying
that they have limited usefulness and that what usefulness they provide
comes with its own restrictions.

> I suppose I could have done that all with my own application by
> writing a SAX filter or something or done it all in a more
> XML-friendly language like XSLT, but I'm very, very glad I didn't have
> to.

It's all about how much flexibility you want, and how much thought
you're willing to put into each of these processes.

Unfortunately, we seem to have these organizations which take
possibilities which are convenient in some cases and build them out into
recommendations which may be seen to apply to all cases, and label them
with the generic "XML".  People then see these things and figure they're
a part of "XML" and incorporate them into 1200-page volumes and
requirements documents etc.

Given what the W3C's "XML-" activities have produced since 1998, I'm
strongly inclined to suggest that they halt, and that folks spend more
time looking at the specifics of how they handle information before
anyone attempts to create more generic solutions to semantic problems.

Simon St.Laurent - SSL is my TLA
http://simonstl.com may be my URI
http://monasticxml.org may be my ascetic URI
urn:oid: is another possibility altogether


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