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   [xml-dev] rules for XML?

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>Now we have had five years of XML, we can see that there are
>three main communities who are not well-served by the current
>well-formed/valid distinction in XML:  at the dumb end of town
>are the SOAP people who don't need entities or a DOCTYPE declaration;
>at the middle of town we have the XHTML people who do need
>entities but don't need validation (or who will be switching to some
>other XML schema language such as ISO DSDL instead of DTDs);
>and at the grand end of town, the Schema and Query people wish
>DTDs could go away faster.

At the risk of being at the "dumb" end of the XML curve, I am looking to
come up with a set of "codd-like" rules that lets me used well-formed XML in
malleable/adaptive applications without the need for a DTD or Schema.  Sure,
XSLT lets me convert to whatever I like, assuming I know what is coming
a-priori.  But what if I don't know what is coming in, and I want to have a
structure that helps me guess (like the implied context of a hierarchy)?

I would like to be able to use these rules for both data and documents.
This is why the attribute vs. element thing is what got me started.

<sock pattern="Argyle"/> is the same as
<sock><pattern>Argyle</pattern></sock> from an XML point of view,

<sock pattern="Argyle">
</sock>  vs.


Have two completely different semantics, in that the attribute
pattern="Argyle" (in my opinion) should not be used because it does not
further specify the size of the sock.  Certainly <FONT color='red'/> can be
interpreted as a presentation attribute, which might safely be ignored for
non-presentation uses, but can <Address country="us" /> be so ignored (since
this country attribute presumably helps the machine determine the follow-on
structure as a USA address, vs. a Germany address, which would have
completely different structure)?

Many are using XML as a transport, and then shredding/CLOBing back into
their rigid RDBMS structures (which is why XSD seems so desired by the
"higher end XML gods"), but some of us are trying to push the art, and use
things like Meta Object Protocols and Reflection to be able to handle TRULY
heterogeneous and FULLY extensible XML documents.

Is anyone else working along these lines to move programming from the
cottage industry it now is into the current century?

BTW: I am hoping this to be my doctoral dissertation subject, so please
shred away!

Owen "dumb, but wanting to be enlightened" Walcher


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