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   Re: [xml-dev] Readable syntaxes (was: XUL Compact Syntax Study Now Onli

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On Thu, 22 Apr 2004, Dave Pawson wrote:

> At 17:47 22/04/2004, Jim Rankin wrote:
> >Also, any tool will have limits.  There will be times when you want to do 
> >things with the data that the person who wrote the tool didn't envision, 
> >and then having a human readable text format like XML will be a big plus.
> The example that tripped me up recently.
> A 'tagless' form of XML, editing docbook.
> I wanted to close off about 3 levels of tags, say para sect2 sect1
> and create a new sect1.
> Because the end tags weren't there to get my cursor in-between
> I just couldn't do what I wanted. Nor could I find any way to
> achieve that.

But that's not an example of a compact notation -- it's an example of
a tool trying to be cleverer than you are, and hiding things from you.
This is an example of bad tool design or bad interface design, not a
demerit of a readable syntax.

I chose to adopt a lisp-like syntax both because it's isomorphic to XML
and because, like XML, it's very easy to parse.  That also means it's
very easy for your editor to help you write it.  Whether I'm writing
XML or writing lisp-like things, I use almost exactly the same editor
keystrokes to navigate around.  It also means that the editor can check
that I've got everything matched up.  Mismatched terminators -- in the
case of both XML and pseudo-lisp -- just don't happen.

All the best,


Norman Gray                        http://www.astro.gla.ac.uk/users/norman/
Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK     norman@astro.gla.ac.uk


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