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   Re: [xml-dev] SGML on the Web

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On Fri, Oct 04, 2002 at 02:03:24PM -0400, Simon St.Laurent wrote:
> > You can't do that if your only concern is document display, or your
> > only tool is CSS.  Remember that XML was meant to live outside of the
> > web, too.
> My point is that such notions have kept XML from ever making its way on
> to the Web.

"XML was meant to ..." No, that's revisionism. As I understand it, XML
*was meant to be* primarily, if not exclusively, for the Web. Which of
course doesn't mean that other uses are wrong. But if we're going to
discuss the original motivations for XML--which might help clarify
things--let's get it right.
> > 
> > I think the problem with Michael's argument was that FO wasn't
> > intended to be rendered in a browser like HTML.  Furthermore, FO
> > was expected to be the output of some program (like an XSL
> > transformation), rather than hand-coded.  FO was designed specifically
> > to handle print media, not the browser.  Years later, it's obvious
> > that these "problems" with FO were just a misunderstanding of the
> > intent.  It was never put forth as a verbose replacement for HTML.
> I disagree.  FO has proven in the end to be primarily aimed at print,
> but that was far from clear initially.

In fact, I believe it was clear that FO was supposed to be for all
output media, including the Web. I don't have time to dig up the
documents that say so directly, but it's clearly implied in this passage
from the XSL 1.0 spec:

  There are also concepts related to adjusting the spaces between lines
  (to adjust the page vertically) and between words and letters (to
  justify the lines of text). These do not always arise with simple
  scrollable document windows, such as those found in today's browsers.
  However, there is a correspondence between a page with multiple
  regions, such as a body, header, footer, and left and right sidebars,
  and a Web presentation using "frames". The distribution of content
  into the regions is basically the same in both cases, and XSL handles
  both cases in an analogous fashion.
In hindsight it's easy to say "Oh yeah, of course you use XSLT for HTML
output, and XSL-FO for print formats." But in, say, 1997 or -8 there was
no concept yet of XSLT as a separate transformation language. And
considering what Len said about the old-timers' experience with web
browsers, there may have been a degree of naivete about browser vendors'
ability and willingness to support a new approach to document rendering.

Matt Gushee
Englewood, Colorado, USA


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