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   Re: [xml-dev] The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

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Sean McGrath wrote:

 > [snip]
 > P.S.
 > One of the fascinating things about the XML world is that XML 
programmers work with highly structured text - computer programs.
 > I think it is interesting that they predominantly use text editors 
(emacs, vi etc.) in their work. I.e. *non structured* editing tools. The 
same people, by and large, think that authors/editors *should* use 
structured editing tools. An interesting juxtaposition of goose and gander.

I find this more interesting than PowerPoint, too. ;-}

When you think an approach should be good but you can't seem to find an 
implementation you want to use, it's time to re-evaluate the approach.

In the first place, hierarchical display is not appropriate for portions 
of documents that flow, like XHTML paragraphs, and many documents are 
mostly flow.

In the second, a hierarchy isn't a natural representation of tuples, 
either. If it were, you would find at least one user interface in some 
application somewhere outside the XML world that required you to do data 
entry in a hierarchy. Tuples are better represented flattened into a 
form, and iterated tuples are better represented as tables. If you have 
to deal with data in an unnatural format, you might as well stick to text.

Finally, structure editors so often impose annoying restrictions on the 
order in which data can be changed and the ways that one can change it, 
that one suspects the problem is intrinsic and a shortcoming of an 
implementation. Structure editing is just a variety of syntax-directed 
editing, which has been trotted out as the next great thing in editing 
for the past three decades, but text editing still dominates.

Bob Foster


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