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   Re: [xml-dev] The "what is XML" permathread revisited -- was Re: [xml-de

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On Apr 12, 2004, at 3:07 PM, Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote:
> Read the first sentence again. It says "completely described". This 
> isn't a beginning. This isn't one part of the XML trinity. It is XML, 
> and nothing else is XML..
Fair enough, but that hasn't proven terribly useful in practice.  The 
DOM, XSLT, and other efforts to work with this definition stumbled over 
the lack of a formal definition for what we call the infoset today -- 
some things in the XML spec are syntax sugar, some aren't (at least in 
SGML practice circa 1997).  Likewise the DOM specifiers realized that 
while we all had different internal data structures, they more or less 
exposed the same abstraction of a labeled tree.  Situations where 
different products did not expose the same abstraction, e.g. how to 
represent the text within the nodes, took up 95% of the discussion.  I 
know we pleaded with the XML WG to define an abstract data model, 
because XML is underspecified in several regards.  I think XSL people 
did too, hence the Infoset spec a couple of years later.   Of course 
that is still underspecified, hence the current discussion of the 
XQuery data model.

> XML is often processed with various tools, and perhaps some of these 
> tools can be made to process other non-XML formats, but that doesn't 
> make those formats XML

Well, that's a perfectly sound logical argument, but so what?  Do you 
really think that is useful guidance to all those people out there who 
are wrestling with the 10x performance hit their customers take when 
they convert to XML, or start experimenting with pulling data out of an 
RDBMS with XQuery and sending it off to another app via SOAP with nary 
an angle bracket in sight? Do you really think that the world will 
accept the "that's interesting stuff, but it's not XML" argument after 
all these years?  Hence my little rant about trinities and heresies:  
universal consensus is impossible, so the alternatives are either 
dogmatic insistence on one's own definition of Truth, or a tolerance 
for different points of view (and the mental ability to take whichever 
one is best suited for the task at hand).

Sigh, this is the Perfect Storm of Permathreads ... I think I will just 
keep quiet because we have all said this a dozen times before.


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