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

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Hi Sam,

>> 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.

Agreed. There's a many-to-many mapping between syntax and data models.
If you define a syntax, it implies you can have many data models for
information represented in that syntax. If you define the data model,
it implies you can represent that data model using many syntaxes.

If you define both, then you've got something that can be exchanged
between different applications in a standard way, and that will be
processed in the same way by each application.

Interestingly, in his closing keynote at the Extreme conference this
year [1], Michael Sperberg-McQueen actually spoke about a *trinity* of
things that were important for a meta-markup language:

  - syntax
  - data structure
  - validation

which Wendell, Gavin and I took as a challenge ;)
Anyway, I'm very glad to see that the talk's made it up onto the


[1] http://www.idealliance.org/papers/extreme02/html/2002/CMSMcQ02/EML2002CMSMcQ02.html

Jeni Tennison


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