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   Re: [xml-dev] Character Entities: An XML Core WG View

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** Reply to message from John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com> on Wed, 30 Oct
2002 16:41:46 -0500 (EST)

> In light of ongoing discussions relating to "character entities"
> including suggestions that a future version of XML should be
> augmented to include some new syntax to accommodate them, the
> XML Core Working Group has developed a public statement describing 
> the current consensus within the WG on certain aspects of this topic.

I'm not convinced by the argument in this document that the internal DTD subset
is a sufficient/appropriate place for the definition of any and all named
character/string entities.  The problem is that once you start using the
internal DTD subset, you have to have an ELEMENT declaration for every element
in the document, as well as ATTLIST declarations.  All of this just because you
wanted to define "&nbsp;" for an otherwise well-formed document.  OK, you could
leave out the ELEMENT & ATTLIST declarations and just allow lots of validation
errors to be reported, but that in itself would just be a source of unnecessary
distraction & confusion for anyone else working with you.  It obscurs the intent
too much.

I don't see why any fundamental reason why documents should be denied the use
of named character/string entities just because they are only well-formed and
not valid.  It seems to me to be just a consequence of XML's roots in SGML
(where life without DTDs was impossible), rather than a preferred design choice.
And if it wasn't a preferred design choice, maybe there would be value in an
entity declaration mechanism that works just as well for well-formed documents
as for valid documents.

Anthony B. Coates, Information & Software Architect
MDDL Editor (Market Data Definition Language)


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