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   RE: [xml-dev] Remembering the original XML vision

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I agree with that.   Keep in mind what was 
not available when SGML was designed and how 
much convergence XML could pick up for free 
that SGML users had to bake in via the SGML.
Then the difference between invention and 
adaptation, necessity and convenience is 
manifestly clearer.  Other aspects such as 
well-formedness were already part of fielded 
SGML systems if not conformant systems, and 
over time, we are finding the shortcomings 
of that approach have made it necessary for 
new technical innovations (xml: namespaces) to 
become more complex.   Even informally deprecating 
formal public identifiers is not a universally 
accepted practice.

One can say as some have including me that 
SGML made it easier for authors and XML for 
programmers.  That is mostly true.  However, 
without a good grounding in the state of the 
industry when these were spec'd, it is misleading. 
Yes, as Gavin said, fixed SGML Declarations were 
de rigeur for the owners of SGML application 
languages (eg, MIL IETMs), but we still had 
to tweak them locally.  So the flexibility had 
advantages.  If that was "too hard", we hired 
smarter developers because contracting for 
smarter users was not, nor ever is, an option.

The biggest problem in attempting to make 
SGML go away is that now XML has to 
work for non-Web and Web systems.  It is 
as if, tired of the food, pirates made 
the cook walk the plank before they determined 
if anyone else knew how to cook on a rolling 
ship in a storm.

It is a hard job to bake one meal for all 
crews and passengers.  In fact, somewhat 
impossible if pleasing them all is a goal.


From: Tim Bray [mailto:tbray@textuality.com]

At the end of the day XML's 
main technical contribution may turn out to have been that it dragged 
Unicode into the mainstream. -Tim


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