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   Re: [xml-dev] XML-appropriate editing data structures

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Bob Foster wrote:

> Agreement is the wrong word, perhaps, but a certain consensus has 
> emerged from this discussion (which I personally have found very 
> helpful) and I will try to summarize it.
> Some people prefer editing XML in text form. These people don't mind the 
> editor providing certain amenities (I didn't hear anyone speaking out 
> against syntax coloring, for example, though now that I've said it 
> somebody probably will) *provided* they don't get in the way (add 
> overhead, slow down editing, try to outsmart the author).
> Others find XML text too far from the final result. E.g., if one is 
> writing books, one may prefer to edit a simile of a book, ditto if one 
> is creating graphics, writing music, designing a house, filling out a 
> form. 

I am actually sympathetic to both extremes.  I normally use a simple 
colorizing editor, like Cooktop or Armed Bear (or Edit+ or Jedit).  The 
main thing I want is good colorizing and the ability to check for 
well-formedness when **I** want to. When I wrote a paper for Extreme - 
which insisted on a specific DTD - I wanted a quasi-WYSIWYG editor with 
tag help and liked XML Mind pretty well.  It is clear to me that if you 
are writing a long, complex document in a production environment, you 
probably should have maximal automation from the editor, as Henrik is 
holding out for.

I even found XML Spy's system to be useful once (amazingly enough) when 
I had to create a complex data-style document with an elaborate schema I 
was not too familiar with.  I loathe Spy's text mode editor, but their 
grid-mode was somewhat helpful here (painful but helpful) - as long as I 
could go to text mode from time to time to see what was really going on 
and fix it if necessary.  The trouble there was when you go to text 
view, you lose your place in the document.  Barf.

Where I differ is that I think most usages do not fit into these neat 
categories.  Henrik may decry poorly designed DTDs, but the reality is 
you may have to live with the DTD you are given.  When I wrote the paper 
for Extreme, I had to  modify the DTD for some reason - as I recall I 
had to add an xml:space="preserve" and something else, I forget what - 
and if I had not been able to adjust the style sheet for XML Mind to use 
I would have been in real trouble. (yes, I told the editors what I had 
done so they could decide how to handle it).

I think a lot of us fall between the nice clean categories, and that is 
where the freedom of a non-intrusive editor is especially valuable.

There is another factor in play, too, I think.  If you are in a typing 
mode, it can be really disruptive to have tags suddenly appear, or to 
have to choose them when they suddenly pop up.  You just are not 
thinking like that.  Or if you are not a markup person - Henrik's 
territory again - you can't be thinking of structure in terms of 
elements and tags, and you are better off if it all happens behind the 
scenes.  So a lot depends on what mode you are functioning in, and how 
you are used to operating.


Tom P


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