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On Jan 16, 2004, at 5:17 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
>> Given the desperate need to ensure that documents that
>> describe potentially high-priced financial instruments are correct in
>> their content, why doesn't it make more sense for you to kick back the
>> badly formed documents to their source and ask for clean versions?
> One reason is the existence of a settlement process. It's cheaper,
> often, to assume all is well, watch for exceptions further down, and
> them by hand.
A recent nuke in the Atomic war :-) over this issue in the Atom
community linked to the W3C SGML WG thread where this issue was
apparently aired for the first time back in early 1997.
it all, apparently.
One post I found particularly intriguing in hindsight was from Paul
"Browsers do not just need a well-formed
XML document. They need a well-formed XML document with a stylesheet
in a known location that is syntactically correct and *semantically
correct* (actually applies reasonable styles to the elements so that
the document can be read). They need valid hyperlinks to valid targets
.... There is still so much room for a document author to screw up that
well-formedness is a very minor step down the path. The idea that
well-formedness-or-die will create a "culture of quality" on the Web
is totally bogus. People will become extremely anal about their
well-formedness and transfer their laziness to some other part of the
I' m not at all sure that the 2004 edition of Paul Prescod would agree,
but the idea that well-formedness is a particularly useful indication
that a document is "correct in content" seems a bit, well "bogus".
There's a lot to more "validity" in the real-world sense of the word
than well-formedness or even validity against an XML schema, even in
something as simple as a typical Web document let alone a business
document with legal and financial ramifications. Most likely, some
"settlement process" is needed for a wide range of errors, and
well-formedness is just the most easily detected.
I do think we in the XML world need to be careful not to overstate the
benefits of well-formedness even if we do insist that it is intrinsic
to the formal definition of what "XML" means. One could of course
argue that it is an indicator of non-"laziness". Is there much
evidence to support this? Does a working knowledge of the corner cases
in the XML spec (or the ability to choose software that handles them
properly) really correlate with overall document quality/validity, in