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

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** Reply to message from ktl@ktlim.com on Fri, 1 Nov 2002 18:20:20 -0800

> How difficult is it to include the following line:
> <!DOCTYPE foo [ <!ENTITY % ents SYSTEM "http://www.example.org/ents";> %ents; ]>

The problem is that many systems will complain that 'foo', as well as every
other element, has not been declared.  Some respondents have replied that this
is just a matter of switching off the validation on your parser.  I wish I lived
in the kind of cosy world where I had control over all of the parsers, and could
control their settings.  Those people who live within their own closed-world
environments can ignore the rest of this message.  This kind of construct can be
confusing to XML editing applications, and to recipients who don't understand
why the elements & attributes are not declared.  A document with a DOCTYPE no
longer looks just well-formed.  It looks like a document that should be valid
with respect to some DTD, but which some idiot didn't specify properly.  The
author will know better, but how will the users, particularly where those
"users" may be software applications, not people?

If this seems pedantic, let me give a concrete example.  XSLT engines do not
require XSLT scripts to be valid with respect to a DTD.  However, character
entities are convenient to use in XSLT scripts, particularly when generating
HTML.  If I stick a DOCTYPE like the above in my XSLT script, the standard
command-line settings will mean that validation fails, and the transformation
won't happen.  Now, the erudite readers of "xml-dev" know how to work around
this, but the other 99% of the world doesn't know, and doesn't want to have to
spend the time learning how.  I can't really go for solutions based on a
slash-and-burn approach towards part-time XML/XSLT users.

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


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