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

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On Sat, 2004-04-10 at 10:10, Amelia A Lewis wrote:
> You and I are not using the same thing.  From earlier in your post, you
> prefer alt-shift-cokebottle-meta-infinity sequences to typing markup, and
> although you say you do not pause at boundaries, if you must "change focus
> to an element window", obviously you do.

I do not change my focus, the application does. There is a difference.

> As for misfeatures that are supposed to give me the typing speed I want, I
> say again that you haven't bothered to listen.  I don't want them, and
> they give me no speed advantage.
> > Are you really arguing that because XML is text based, markup must be
> > handled character by character? That does not hold. PDF, RTF and MIF
> > markup are also text. So is Postscript for that matter. If XML markup
> > should be handled character by character because it is text, it follows
> > that those other text formats should be edited in text editors too.
> What I am *saying* is that, since it is text, I ought to be able to type
> it as text and treat it as text if I wish.

I agree with that. You should certainly be able to do so if you wish. It
probably is the best way for you to edit XML documents. I just don't
believe that it is the best way when people edit XML documents in
general. Then again, of course we are both entitled to have different
opinions about that.

> If you wish to never see the awful ugliness of the markup part of
> text-based markup, that's fine.  Go use your surreal XML editors, and I'll
> use my pragmatic ones.

The editor you are using is not more pragmatic. It is designed to meet a
different set of requirements. The question is, which set of
requirements does best reflect the needs of the average author?

> > Perhaps you should try connecting your fingers with your brain when you
> > write sometimes. You might be surprised at the improvement, XML editor
> > or no XML editor.
> The only appropriate reply to public rudeness: Bite my ass.

You are right. I am sorry.

> > I find it odd that you are prepared to learn several DTDs by heart, and
> > yet balk at learning two or three control sequences so that you can
> > improve your efficiency when using an XML editor, and get rid of most
> > tagging mistakes as a bonus.
> I don't make tagging mistakes, if the editor will get out of my face.  But
> this is apparently something that you're not really particularly willing
> to listen to, is it?

I believed you when you wrote that you forgot the end tags half the
time. (Though that was probably an exaggeration.)

> Oddly enough *not* everyone in the world uses the same editing style.
> > So, you trash half the markup by forgetting end tags. Since you
> How much?

Please read your own statement.

> > sometimes trash a start tag too, that evens out to a bit more than half
> > the time, at least when you are in the flow, i.e. when you are doing
> How often?

Again, please read what you wrote.

> > your best writing, and everything goes smoothly.
> Are you on really interesting drugs or something?

The only appropriate reply to public rudeness: Bite my ass.

> I typically have perhaps one error in a hundred characters, or less, and
> the chance of it being markup is low.

Then you are very fortunate. Most authors would not do nearly that well
editing markup by hand.

> If you regularly mistype half of your input, then your preference for an
> editor with control issues is made perfectly clear.
> > Do not those trashed tags interrupt the flow?
> Nope.
> > The programmer wouldn't know more about the document. However, the
> > programmer is expected to know more about editing XML, and about GUIs,
> > and about human-computer interaction.
> Now *there's* an interesting assertion, indeed.  HCI tends toward dumbing
> things down and refusing to admit the possibility of expertise.

When developing an XML authoring environment, your XML skills are highly

When writing a document, your writing skills and your skills on the
subject matter are important. Your XML specific knowledge has much less
relevance. There is nothing wrong with an editor reducing the need for
XML knowledge, just as the editor you use reduces your need to know
about Postscript.

Interestingly, automation tends to remove the easy, repetitive tasks.
The tasks that remain are the hard ones. Thus, with automation, the
average level of expertise required goes up, not down. At least to some
extent this holds for writing too. Using a pen is easier than using MS
Word. Using MS Word is easier than authoring structured documents with
an XML editor. An XML editor that automates markup creation leaves the
much harder task of structuring and writing the document as the only
thing left for the author to do. On one hand, this can be considered
beneficial, because the author can focus on writing, without the added
cognitive load of managing the markup. On the other hand, one might
argue that it encourages the brain to work at full throttle for longer
than it is designed to. According to this view, editing the markup by
hand would constitute a much needed change of pace, resulting in a
better average speed in the long run. I do not buy into this view
myself, but I can certainly understand the argument.

> > The purpose of XML is to enable as much automation as possible. Using a
> > text editor to write XML documents is missing the point of using XML in
> > the first place!
> Horsefeathers.

"The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a subset of SGML that is
completely described in this document. Its goal is to enable generic
SGML to be served, received, and processed on the Web in the way that is
now possible with HTML. XML has been designed for ease of implementation
and for interoperability with both SGML and HTML."

"The design goals for XML are:

     1. XML shall be straightforwardly usable over the Internet.
     2. XML shall support a wide variety of applications.
     3. XML shall be compatible with SGML.
     4. It shall be easy to write programs which process XML documents.
     5. The number of optional features in XML is to be kept to the
        absolute minimum, ideally zero.
     6. XML documents should be human-legible and reasonably clear.
     7. The XML design should be prepared quickly.
     8. The design of XML shall be formal and concise.
     9. XML documents shall be easy to create.
    10. Terseness in XML markup is of minimal importance."

Both quotes are from Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 (Third

XML is designed for automation. What it isn't designed for, is authoring
by humans. (Whether it is _suitable_ for authoring by humans is a
different issue.)

> > Why don't you do the same thing: try one of the "straightjacket" editors
> > for awhile. I recommend XMetaL. I think there is a 30 day demo
> Why do you assume I haven't done so?  Your incredible arrogance in this
> thread has gone all the way beyond irritating into *plonk*

It was your previous assumption (at least that was the way I perceived
it) that attributes have to be edited inline that lead me to believe
that you had not seen the alternatives. Sorry about that. I was to quick
to draw conclusions.

> > available. It is very different from what you are used to, so you
> > probably won't like it at first, but give it two or three weeks anyway.
> I used it longer than that; it was a chosen tool at work for three months.
>  Fortunately, the requirement was dropped (about the same time I was
> switching platforms, to one unsupported by XMetal).

I am curious. Could you please describe a situation where the design of
XMetaL did cause trouble. Please provide a specific example if you
decide to reply.

> > I think you would grow to like the editing features. 
> No.  I didn't.  And I didn't make up my mind on short notice.  Odd, that
> someone should bother, when she holds strong opinions.  I don't have any
> use for that style of editor, despite your further expectations, and I now
> have enough experience to actually know what I want.

Good! I have absolutely no problem with you preferring an editing
environment different from the one I do.



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