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   Does WTSIWYG make simplicity moot? (was Re: [xml-dev] dtds, schemas,xhtm

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11/11/2002 12:07:00 PM, "Anthony B. Coates" <abcoates@TheOffice.net> wrote:

>For the 80/20 things that most users need, W3C XML Schema is no harder to teach
>than DTDs, if you are using a decent WYSIWYG Schema editor like XML Authority or
>XML Spy.  Let's get away from the olde world charm of fireside discussions over
>port debating which schema language is easiest to write and maintain using vi or
>Notepad.  The world has moved on.

I've been muttering to myself about this all day, but couldn't come up with a
pithy response.  Fortuitiously, Joel Spolsky addresses a very similar subject
on his weblog today - http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/LeakyAbstractions.html
[in a very slightly different context] 

"In teaching someone about COM programming, it would be nice if I could 
just teach them how to use the Visual Studio wizards and all the code 
generation features, but if anything goes wrong, they will not have 
the vaguest idea what happened or how to debug it and recover from it. 
I'm going to have to teach them all about IUnknown and CLSIDs and 
ProgIDS and ... oh, the humanity!"

Sure, the Wizzy IDE's can handle the simple cases, but "oh, the humanity!"
when things start to get complicated or the un-stated assumptions
are violated.  Throw  newbies with some training in the fundamentals
out of XML Spy and ask them to deal with DTD 
(or, hopefully someday, RELAX NG) then they have a reasonable
hope of figuring out what's wrong and fixing it by hand.  Throw just
about ANYONE out of Spy when the going gets tough and force them 
to confront some of the more  exotic bits of W3C XSDL, 
and they'll be howling for blood.

As usual, Spolsky puts it extremely well:

"Code generation tools which pretend to abstract out something, like all 
abstractions, leak, and the only way to deal with the leaks competently 
is to learn about how the abstractions work and what they are abstracting. 
So the abstractions save us time working, but they don't save us time learning."

The world has moved on, alright ... down the road to hell :-)


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