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   Re: [xml-dev] some days I'm wrong

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K. Ari Krupnikov wrote:

> One of the promises of XML is "no more small languages". I've just
> spent a week worth of evenings reading fvwm*(1) manual pages to figure
> out a feature in it config file format. I kept wishing it had been
> XML, because most of the time I wasted I spent figuring out the
> syntax.

Moderately-relevant trivia: In er 1998 or so I did a keynote at the 
second-ever Perl conference, on the subject of XML and perl, perl having 
just received its first implant of XML technology.  I cast about for how 
to bring syntax-design issues home to a bunch of perl hacks, and 
eventually took a tour through the config files of a linux system, 
showing how even excellent software like inetd can feature miserable 
syntax in its config files.  I used half a dozen different examples 
which I forget, but I remember that I built up to fvwm as the example of 
ultimately horrible syntax - its config file combines positional 
parameters, function-like notation, continuation-line markers, and IIRC 
m4 macro processor dung.  It's outstandingly bad, and I got a 
substantial proportion of the audience roaring with laughter.  The 
message for the crowd was that if XML helps us get out of the business 
of designing syntax, that might be a win.

Having said all that, the RNC syntax is dramatically better than any 
plausible XML alternative. -Tim


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