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   RE: [xml-dev] heritage (was Re: [xml-dev] SGML on the Web)

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> > Carelessness on 
> > my part but I was surprised that anyone would claim that XML did not 
> > have an underlying data model. 
> The problem is that it should have an underlying model, but it hasn't:
> it only has a "overlying" model (the InfoSet) that is retrofitted to the
> syntax. The fact that the model is retrofitted rather than being a
> normative part of XML means that questions like "are comments
> significant" have never been satisfactorily answered. Even the new
> versions of the specs (XML 1.1 and Namespaces 1.1) do not refer
> normatively to the InfoSet, so these questions remain debateable. And
> the confusion over marginally-significant stuff like CDATA sections,
> namespace prefixes, and inter-element whitespace continues to cause
> interoperability nightmares. 

> If people had defined the model before defining the syntax we wouldn't
> be in this mess.

I must confess that in the topic map world we are in a similar "fix" -- if
indeed a fix it is. However, people "get" syntax in a way that they didn't
the modelling choices, and we might never have come to agreement on
*anything* if we hasn't done the syntax first. So perhaps here, as
elsehwere, "worse is better."

However, instances of syntax are just "brute facts" -- things in the
world. I'm skeptical of the notion that there has to be *a* model. 

Just as in the real world, there are many models (mental and otherwise)
for the things in the world, I don't see why there can't be many models
for instances of syntax. 

Granted, some models may be more authoritative than others, and in some
cases it may be desirable to have a single unique and authoritative model,
realized in one (or more) syntaxes, but in all cases? Probably not.
Chemical engineering was possible and profitable before the Bohr model of
the atom existed.

Sam Hunting
eTopicality, Inc.

"Turn your searching experience into a finding experience."(tm)

Topic map consulting and training: www.etopicality.com
Free open source topic map tools:  www.gooseworks.org

XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web.
Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-74960-2.


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