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   Re: [xml-dev] SGML on the Web

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/ "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com> was heard to say:
| XML directly on the Web seems to have fallen victim to the notion that
| XML needed a transformative style approach, missing the easy opportunity
| that CSS provided for document display and requiring people to use XSLT.

Solving the general problem of turning XML markup into attractive
presentation in general requires transformation. If you start with XML
that's roughly isomorphic to the order and appearance you want, you
don't need transformation, granted, but that's hardly the general

  <figure><title>Some Title</title>
        <para>Some long description</para>
         <imagedata fileref="someFile"/>
      <textobject><phrase>Alternate text in English</phrase></textobject>

Just isn't going to become

    <<< Rendering of someFile >>>
    <<< With appropriate alt text >>>

    Figure 3-4: Some Title

without some transformation.

Adding the constraints necessary for reasonable paginated rendering
often requires even more interesting transformations.

| That notion has also provided Microsoft with plenty of cover for their
| (non-)approach to XML in the browser, which may have successfully kept
| XML off the ordinary Web.

Maybe. XML+CSS is a cool thing. If it had been quickly supported, we
might be shipping more interesting stuff around. Especially if there'd
been some standard way to identify simple linking semantics.

It wouldn't have removed the need for some transformations to do
decent rendering of some vocabularies.

| XSL ran into several challenges, though it seemed to keep going its own
| way regardless.  The XSL community seemed, from the perspective of a CSS
| user, to have little interest in and much contempt for the notion of
| formatting through annotation generally and CSS particularly.

I've taken the bait too many times. Troll me once, shame on me...

| The
| "Formatting Objects Considered Harmful" argument may not have bothered
| people who considered FOs a necessary result of a transformation, but it
| certainly troubled those of us who had hoped XML would encourage the
| sharing of computer-interpretable information.

I can't even parse that. At the risk of being accused of a little
trolling myself, FO considered harmful is just FUD.

Why on earth did the development of a vocabulary designed to express
the constraints of reasonably sophisticated paginated formatting
trouble you?

Would you have been less troubled if I'd taken my nice semantically
rich, computer-interpretable data and poured it into some proprietary
application for presentation? Maybe you would, not that I can fathom why.

| with CSS and finally reached Recommendation.  It's great stuff for
| producing print documents, but I don't think we need to worry about
| FO-based "Semantic Firewalls" any time in the near future.

What on earth would one of those even be?

| On the bright side, XML has certainly found use beyond traditional Web
| development, and XSLT has found plenty of use in styling (mostly
| generating HTML or HTML+CSS, ironically enough)

How is that the slightest bit ironic?

| what XML can add instead of piling more features into XML or creating
| formats designed for usages only tenuously connected to the Web.  The

I assume you mean FO again. Did it ever occur to you that some of us
had a vision not only of XML for the Web, but of XML for other things
as well? Even in the beginning? And that there might be some benefit
to be gained from working cooperatively to define some standards for
those applications?

| Lots of good questions yet to answer, even after years of work.

Yes indeed! A sign of a living technology, I suppose.

                                        Be seeing you,

- -- 
Norman.Walsh@Sun.COM    | Doubt is to certainty as neurosis is to
XML Standards Architect | psychosis. The neurotic is in doubt and has
Sun Microsystems, Inc.  | fears about persons and things; the psychotic
                        | has convictions and makes claims about them.
                        | In short, the neurotic has problems, the
                        | psychotic has solutions.--Thomas Szasz
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