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firstname.lastname@example.org (Rick Jelliffe) writes:
>Once a large technology is made from sufficiently intertwined parts,
>there is no way to order an exposition of it such that
>strongly-connected ideas are always close together. Spaghetti doesn't
>want to be free. (At least, "no way" to order the exposition with
>HTML-style pages: maybe WXS needs something more like Nelson's
>transclusion, where you can pull in fragments (without losing their
>context) and embed them into running text, without the maintenance
>penalty of duplicated sections.)
This is beautifully put, and reflects the same challenges authors face
in explaining specifications as well. Cross-references are wonderful
things, but immensely frustrating to manage and to read.
Even simplifying the specifications doesn't always help. As fond as I
am of clean layering in specifications, that fondness causes me problems
when I want to assume that readers understand the layer on which I'm
building. Given readers who do know the layers, things are great, but
otherwise there's yet another learning process.
>Indeed, I think that is a forgotten
>rationale for XML over SGML: dumbing down an intertwined technology so
>that it could have a spec straightforward-enough that people could
>conveniently read it.
Yes. The XML spec was difficult enough when I first encountered it. I
can't imagine daring to write "SGML: A Primer" at that point, but "XML:
A Primer" was better than plausible.