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   Re: [xml-dev] Are XML's Good Ideas hidden? (was Re: [xml-dev] Re: What a

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In a message dated 26/10/2002 21:16:29 GMT Daylight Time, mc@xegesis.org writes:

So, I'm curious: are the people who "just don't GET it" a disaffected
minority who come here to have a good rant, or or the tip of
the iceberg of submerged unhappiness with XML among real world developers?


I am not sure if I am a "troll" or a "regular" in your comments which I chose not to quote. :)

To answer your question - There is enormous unhappiness, in my estimation, in the Web developer community with XML.

Have you noticed that it is often computer book authors such as Simon, Elliotte and myself who are raising concerns. In our lives we interact with people who are learning XML-based technologies (among other things). They frequently do not find XML at all simple!

Many readers would say that test(XML=simple) should return false.

What causes the difficulties they have?

A lot of hype about XML which, at times, bordered on dishonesty.

A lot of the online material about XML is muddled / garbled.

XML, which is "simple" for many on this list, uses levels of abstraction which many Web developers simply are not used to. Many Web developers simply do not have the conceptual framework that a CS graduate would take for granted. So what is "simple" or "obvious" to some/many on this list is totally opaque to many Web developers.

The pointlessness (seen from the viewpoint of Mr. Average Web Developer) of XMLising HTML. There was a long discussion on XHTML-L about what the practical advantages of XHTML are for the ordinary Web developer. The list was pitifully short.

A failure at W3C to appreciate that it is necessary to create good standards (put aside the question of whether or not that has been achieved) but it is not sufficient. Attention to communication is also very important. I have been raising this issue for a very long time and some of the communication failures are, in my view, coming home to roost.

And, let's be realistic, Mr. Average Web Developer is often less intelligent than at least some on this list. So, if XML is to be communicated to these guys and guyesses unnecessary "fancy stuff" needs to be avoided.

Many first-time XSLT developers just do not get the fact that we have xsl:stylesheet, rather than, say, xslt:stylesheet. .... "Isn't XSL something different from XSLT?" ... I raised that particular issue with xsl-editors a very long time ago. It wasn't difficult for them (the editors), so they (wrongly) assume it wouldn't cause difficulty for others. How full of insight is that?

Take the issue I raised a few days ago about XSLT 2.0 / XQuery 1.0 interchangeably using "element" and "element node". Michael Kay's response was that it wasn't problematic for him. Norman Walsh and Dare Obasanjo chimed in with similar comments.  And it isn't really a problem for me (at one level), I understand (I think <grin/>) what they are doing. But I am 100% sure it will cause problems when trying to communicate XQuery or XSLT 2.0. Many Web developers are only just beginning to grasp the difference between an element in XML 1.0 and a "tag". To change the meaning of "element" raises barriers that are avoidable.

I could go on. ... Perhaps I have already. :)

I will stop. It's late here in the UK.

I hope I have illustrated a few of the issues which impact on this. XML is quite straightforwardly NOT simple for many Web developers. A constant flow of progressively more lengthy and complex specifications from W3C does not nothing to attract these developers.

Is the situation irremediable? Well let's discuss that question.

Andrew Watt


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