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   Re: [xml-dev] The XML 500 word Challenge

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In a message dated 27/10/2002 16:28:09 GMT Standard Time, mc@xegesis.org writes:

>  So, in my view, you will have lost/bamboozled a significant number of
>  potential readers in the first substantive sentence of your essay.

OK, fair enough. I'm tempted to surrender in humiliation .

:) My objective wasn't to force you to surrender or humiliate you. But, hopefully, you have begun to realise it isn't easy communicating this stuff. And, in your work on whatever W3C WG (WGs?) you are on you will think about how effectively the document communicates. ... A deal? <grin/>

... But

some questions before I do:

So, the notion of a "tree" in the data structure sense is
over the head of the average user? 

Can I switch to another domain of geekdom in my reply?

The skills of developers are distributed in what statisticians call a skewed distribution. Many members of this list might be in, for the sake of argument, the 0.01% of the most highly skilled (Of course I exclude myself. :) ). Then there is a long, long tail of the distribution.

If you are working in a corporate environment the best of your colleagues will also be very skilled. Your junior colleagues debatably skilled. And so on.

And then there are many guys and guyesses in small shops. Some of them really bright consultants, many the "just get by" merchants.

For some the notion of a tree is obvious (just as a skewed distribution is "basic" for a statistician). For others, they probably get the idea of a tree (just). For others they will stick at the "Why?" of a tree. And others might think that anybody who puts the "root" of a tree at the top has to be pretty crazy. :) And of course there are other permutations.

Communicating XML with the bulk of developers is key to XML's future acceptance in my view.

That may be true, or at least its

"truth" was beaten into the heads of the original DOM working group by the
browser vendors, which it why DOM supports both the tree navigation
view and the "lists of lists of lists of lists" view.

It's changing. As more scripters are using the DOM tree the general idea is becoming more widespread.

I'm thinking that

while "labeled trees" is obviously too geeky, anyone who doesn't understand
Data Structures 101 is simply not going to have a clue what the "XML as
a particular type of hierarchical data structure" view is all all about,
and that's a failure of education that I can't hope to remedy :-)

Not on your own, No. :) ... But if you guys in WGs think how you can best communicate with the brighter part of the tail then the filtering down of understanding will improve.

How about

"a specific kind of 'tree' data structure where every node has a label
(analogous to the 'tags' and attribute names in HTML).  That's not strictly
correct (text nodes, barf) but is it understandable by your audience?

On the "XML as abstract syntax" side of the aisle, I have to agree that
"metalanguage" is definitely in the realm of geekdom. But how does one convey
to Joe Webhacker what the "angle bracket thingies" are if there is no
constraint that they consist of the tags

:) ... Having just written Sams Teach Yourself XML in 10 Minutes (in the bookshops any day now) I had to struggle with all those issues. What goes in? What, for reasons of space / complexity has to be ditched? What will help the "average" developer have several of those "Oh, I see now" moments?

It wasn't easy. ... So maybe that's why I reacted to the notion that "XML really is easy" yesterday. :)

If you guys and guyesses on the WGs can better communicate what you are up to and why you do what you are doing then that helps XML be accepted.

Andrew Watt


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