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

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On Sat, 10 Apr 2004 12:46:57 +0200
Henrik Martensson <henrik.martensson@bostream.nu> wrote:
> On Sat, 2004-04-10 at 10:10, Amelia A Lewis wrote:
> > > 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.)

I'm afraid that you misread.  Here's the original quote:

> validation advice when asked for.  I like it if I can type </[some-key]
> and get a proper close tag, although I forget that half the time if I'm
> in the flow.

To restate: I forget to use the shortcut half the time if I'm in the flow.
 It's helpful at times, so I mention it, as a nod to those who use those
sorts of tools more frequently.

If I had to recall particular keystrokes for particular purposes, rather
than simply letting constant exposure to a DTD soak in, I'd be in the
situation more often.

> > > So, you trash half the markup by forgetting end tags. Since you
> > 
> > How much?
> Please read your own statement.

See above.  Please read more carefully, if you're going to be
confrontational in doubting my reports of my experience (or for that
matter, my memory of what I wrote).

> > How often?
> Again, please read what you wrote.

Again, please try that yourself.

> 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.

This depends a great deal upon the environment in which the work is done
and the chosen career path.  From what you seem to be describing of the
environment in which you work, it would be extremely difficult to develop
knowledge of the DTDs in use, as opposed to the editor keystrokes/menu
selections.  If I were a newlie tech writer looking to improve my skills
in creating content and polishing style, I might consider such a position
as a means to break in (as a matter of fact, when I was the situation was
rather different).  If I were still making a living as a tech writer,
with moderate experience, and looking to learn the skills to lead a team
or freelance, I would probably avoid that job environment; the tool set
not only buffers the folks who need buffers, but reduces the opportunity
for advanced learning in that direction (knowledge of the whole process,
and of the underlying tools and document definitions).

I don't doubt that the editing environments that are commonly flogged on
the market meet someone's need.  This thread moved into territory that
invited folks to share their experience, and what they liked or disliked. 
I have no problem with your sharing your experience.  I get highly
resentful if you tell me mine is wrong, and assume that I haven't bothered
to actively investigate that on which I report.

It's quite clear that we work in different environments.  I have doubts
about yours, as I've understood it from what you've expressed earlier, but
that's neither here nor there.  I don't think you're qualified to judge
what works best in my environment.

> 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.

Possibly.  It's not the argument that I'm making, though.

> > > 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.

>      6. XML documents should be human-legible and reasonably clear.
>      9. XML documents shall be easy to create.

> 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.)

I think that at least two of those principles directly contradict your
assertion.  It might be argued that "easy to create" means "using a tool
that hides the complexity," but I don't believe that that was the
intention.  I suppose that we could ask the authors, if they haven't tired
of the invective already.

Amelia A. Lewis                    amyzing {at} talsever.com
I don't want what's best for you--
    where will I be when you've found it?
        I pray a lot about these bad feelings inside
            but I can't pray my way through or around it.
                -- Emily Saliers


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