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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:
> > On Fri, Oct 04, 2002 at 01:08:57PM -0400, Simon St.Laurent wrote:
> > > 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. 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.
> > 
> > Yes, but as you say, XML needs a transformative approach 
> Huh?  I didn't endorse that approach by any means.  Such an approach may
> be useful, but I'd call "needed" an overstatement, and it certainly came
> with costs as well as benefits.

Hrm.  I seem to have misstated your position.  Sorry 'bout that.  ;-)

> > -- a way of  turning an XML format into a Java Class (e.g. WSDL ->
> > SOAP proxy).
> That may be what you need.  I think that path has been disastrous for
> XML generally, however.

The big problem with XML is that it is intended to be universal.

This has led to irreconsilable dualities in the past: document vs. data
for example.  You seem to be describing another duality: annotation vs.

Where I sit, the ability to both annotate and transform XML data has 
been a key part of XML's success -- even on the web.  I don't see how
the desire to transform (even overemphasizing the need to transform)
has been detrimental.  While XSLT may have distracted people away from
XML+CSS, I don't see that distraction a root cause for anything

> > 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.

That's a pretty bold statement.  It also discounts a lot of other
factors: lack of widespread vendor support for rendering XML 
(either via CSS or XSL); inconsistent presentation of XML documents when
supported; and the widspread entrenchment of HTML-based presentation,
both in terms of installed browsers and developer skills.

Had XSLT never been started, I don't think the web community would have
adopted XML+CSS to a significantly greater degree.  After all, it took
years to get CSS implemented properly in some browsers; ISTR that
IE4/Mac was the first to pass the CSS torture test, and that was mid-2000.

Therefore, it was *possible* to do XML+CSS way before XSLT became viable
(on the browser or on the server), yet it wasn't widely used, mostly
because it was poorly supported by a small number of 4th generation

> I disagree.  FO has proven in the end to be primarily aimed at print,
> but that was far from clear initially.

I don't think so.  Norm's rebuttal to the XSL Considered Harmful
describes CSS and XSL as complimentary technologies, not competing


At the time, there was some discussion of interactive XSL documents
being in-scope.  The majority of Norm's comments deal with the need
for a transformation language for a variety of uses.  I won't go
so far as to say that Norm's expectations for XML formatting are
universal, but he makes a good case that the need for transformation
in one form or another is widespread.
> I'm not contesting the success of XSLT, only that its contribution to
> the success of XML on the Web is questionable at best.  While it has
> certainly made some contribution, it's also put off a lot of the people
> I thought most likely to take advantage of XML in Web development.

Yes, XSLT doesn't contribute significantly to the success (or lack
thereof) of XML on the web.  But I don't see how that's relevant - XSLT
isn't supposed to drive or impede XML adoption on the web, just simplfy
transformational processing of XML.  

If the existance of XSLT is holding people back from XML in Web
development, that's a marketing problem, not a technology problem.



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