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   Re: [xml-dev] Future of XSL-FO at W3C??

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On Friday 18 October 2002 2:29 pm, AndrewWatt2000@aol.com wrote:
> It sounds as if you are buying into the "Formatting Objects are Harmful"
> nonsense. Shame on you! :)

No, I'm on the other side of that argument. However, they do have a finite 
'use by' date measured in minutes, and if consumed after that period you 
should see a doctor. 

My thing about the semantic / harmfulness (seeing as you've asked) is that 
yes, you do lose all the semantic richness of the original XML source. Fine - 
that was then and this is now - and now we are being printed. As such, we 
have a semantically rich -new- vocabulary. The vocabulary of design and 
layout. The vocabulary of how you want this information - whatever it is, 
yeah, yadda yadda, don't care, just tell me how you want it to look - 
replaces the now unnecessary and now modally obsolete 'structure' or 
'meaning' semantics of the original problem space. The problem space of an 
XSL-FO doc is purely how it should look - how it should appear - the 
semantics are those of manifestation as ink on paper, effectively. 

That's the reason they should only live as long as it takes to get it out on 
paper. If left lying around (and honestly, what possible reason is there for 
that to ever occur? They're cheap and easy to make new ones) then you will 
have the result that a lot of XML kept in drawers and cupboards will have 
been 'crawled' somehow by those future XML semantic 'know everything' parsers 
in an attempt to knit the knowledge of the world together and answer it all. 
Thus, XSL-FO if persisted will result in a lot of 'null knowledge'. 

However, if you want the real guts of a doc, go to the source - that's where 
the semantics appropriate to the topic's problem space are kept. Similarly, 
there are no structural XML-ready semantics to be found on the sheet of 
paper. Doesn't make paper evil, though. Just means that semantic crawling 
won't get confused by it. (Like we'd not think up some way of spotting XSL-FO 
namespaces anyway, and stop it from being crawled before it goes bang).

Ian Tindale


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