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   Re: [xml-dev] ISO and the Standards Golden Hammer (was Re: [xml-dev] You

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I neglected to provide requisite bibliographic
information for the (cited) SGML FAQ Book,
in case anyone needs it:


Derose, Steven J. The SGML FAQ Book: Understanding the
Foundation of HTML and XML. [Kluwer Academic] Electronic
Publishing Series, Number 7. Dordrecht/Boston: Kluwer
Academic Publishers, [July] 1997. Extent: xxiv + 250 pages,
appendices. ISBN: 0-7923-9943-9 (Hardbound). Author's
affiliation: Inso Corporation, formerly Electronic Book
Technologies, Inc.

Another excellent source of information (though not the
desired "note") is of course, the SGML Handbook, edited
by Charles Goldfarb.  It contains a fair amount of
commentary of this sort:

  "The original idea behind the CONCUR feature was to
  allow the results of one or more formatting processes
  to coexist [...]  I therefore recommend that CONCUR
  not be used to create multiple logical views of a
  document, such as verse-oriented and speech-oriented
  views of poetry..."

Of course, this is just the recollection and interpretation
of one person, reflecting upon and rethinking 1980-vintage
decisions in 1990, but Goldfarb is the key person.

Goldfarb, Charles F. The SGML Handbook. Edited and
with a foreword by Yuri Rubinsky. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1990. Extent: 688 pages. ISBN:
0-19-853737-1. This volume contains the full annotated
text of ISO 8879 (with amendments) and complete
commentary on the SGML standard by its major architect
and editor.


Robin Cover
XML Cover Pages
WWW: http://xml.coverpages.org
Newsletter: http://xml.coverpages.org/newsletter.html
Innodata Isogen: rcover@innodata-isogen.com
OASIS: robin.cover@oasis-open.org

On Fri, 30 Apr 2004, Robin Cover wrote:

> On Fri, 30 Apr 2004 jcowan@reutershealth.com wrote:
> > Robin Cover scripsit:
> > 
> > > Are you forgetting about some of the
> > > untested SGML 'FEATURES' that got into ISO 8879, and by common
> > > consent (from my POV) represent engineering monstrosities?
> > 
> > Something I'd like to see: a historical note explaining the features of
> > SGML that didn't make it into XML, particularly focused on what they were
> > intended to be used for.
> I'm not sure this note will ever be written, as it would likely not be
> flattering to any of the people who deserve credit for making the
> core ideas of SGML a success.  Read between the lines in Steve DeRose's
> SGML FAQ Book, and read (twice) through the postings of Erik Naggum
> to comp.text.sgml, and ask some of the people who witnessed the ISO
> process at work in the final months before 8879 became cast in steel.
> I could write what I think I know about this, but I don't think it
> would serve any interest other than historical, and it would represent
> disproportionate focus on a part of the story that's not so pretty.
> One example: we know a lot about the 'CONCUR' problem (some
> refs at http://xml.coverpages.org/hierarchies.html ) but the experts
> I know will tell you that the SGML CONCUR feature did not solve the
> "real" concur problem, and arguably, not even the problem it tried
> to solve, because of ambiguities [things not/under-specified] in the
> standard.
> My intent was not to discredit the 8879 Standard, nor to discredit
> the principal designers (most of whom were not formally trained
> computer scientists, as has often been observed), but to offer one
> small example showing how the ISO process itself does not guarantee
> QA.  That's important if the notion of "guaranteeing a better chance"
> is fundamentally and profoundly non-determinative.
> Robin
> > -- 
> > "May the hair on your toes never fall out!"     John Cowan
> >         --Thorin Oakenshield (to Bilbo)         jcowan@reutershealth.com
> > 
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