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   Re: [xml-dev] rss regularis(z)ation

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Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote:

> Except that RSS isn't XML. It claims to be, but in practice it isn't,
> and many members of the RSS community are radically opposed to making
> it real XML, with draconian error handling and markup encoded as
> markup. If RSS is one of the few real successes we cam point to, then
> something's seriously wrong with XML.

I think that RSS as practiced has the key properties that power XML -- 
elements, attributes, and text, deliniated with simple markup.  IMHO it's 
the "self-describing" element tags and embedded metadata  attribute-value 
pairs that seem to give the SGML-derived languages like HTML and RSS their 
real power in non-geek communities.... enabled by people doing a View 
Source and using what they see as a template for what they want. It's also 
interesting that both HTML and RSS products are notoriously non-draconian 
in practice.

Also, RSS should be a poster child for XML namespaces, because everyone and 
his dog wants to extend it but keep the core syntax / semantics.  Instead, 
namespaces are (as Danny Ayers points out elsewhere, can't remember where 
offhand) one of the principal cleavage points in the RSS world.  Are those 
resisting namespaces just being stupid/stubborn, or are they the "canaries 
in the coalmines" dropping over from the toxic namespace fumes?  I don't 
know ... but I hear the sound of people voting with their feet.  Maybe the 
XML Supreme Court should steal the election and suspend civil rights until 
this non-orthodoxy is corrected :-)  But seriously, this challenges the XML 
world to show that the namespace spec really adds more benefit than cost in 
the real world, or to clean it up until it  does.

Does all this indicate "something seriously wrong with XML"?  Certain 
aspects of RSS practice (such as the casual disregard for well-formedness 
and the bizarre practice of CDATA-escaping random HTML-ish text) certainly 
give me the willies.  But I think the RSS developers (mostly) see that this 
takes them to the edge of a very slippery slope with nasty rocks at the 
bottom, and are trying to edge back from it.  So, they are easily 
exploiting the most powerful bits of XML and can be taught about best 
practice when it comes to the harder bits. I see the thrashing attempts of 
the RSS people to use XML -- and the work of the J2ME people to figure out 
what bits of the XML corpus are valuable enough to fit into a constrained 
device, for that matter -- as evolutionary experiments to learn from rather 
than heresies to stamp out. 


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