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

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Bullard, Claude L (Len) writes:

 > Is this a fair assertion: few markup system users will be
 > productive unless a markup specialist sets up the system for them?
 > A lot about the perception of markup is determined by the tradeoffs
 > this person is trained to make.

If you change "will be" to "are", then add the caveat that a user may
choose to learn about markup rather than seeking the services of a
specialist, then I agree.

Complicated things can become familiar -- we expect a typical project
manager or MBA to do things with a spreadsheet that would have kept a
whole computing department busy 30 years ago.  Part of that comes from
the fact that the spreadsheet simplified the job, but a lot comes from
the fact that people have come to understand the processes and
abstractions required for using a spreadsheet (inclusion by reference,
computed content, two-dimensional arrays, and so on) even if they
cannot name them.

The dream back in the late 1980s and early 1990s was that SGML editors
would replace word processors and that everyone would use generic
markup for everything -- SoftQuad even distributed DTDs for things
like office memos.  Obviously, nothing like that happened, either with
SGML or XML; in fact, XML has followed Java's path in being intended
mainly for the frontend but succeeding mainly on the backend.

It could be that people will go through another mind shift, like they
did with spreadsheets, word processors, e-mail, and then Web
publishing -- then there wouldn't be anything scary about using
generic markup.  The problem is that we haven't given them a
convincing reason to do so.

 > XML is supposed to be the culmination of the shared experience of
 > the SGML community.

That sounds a little heavy -- I look at it as more of a long-overdue
bug-fix release.

All the best,


David Megginson, david@megginson.com, http://www.megginson.com/


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