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   Re: [xml-dev] Document oriented experience reports anyone?

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Robin Berjon writes:

> I wrote an XML Schema for SVG Full 1.1, and another for SVG Tiny
> 1.1. Doing so taught me a number of things:
>   * 85% of XML Schema is thoroughly useless and without value;

Wow!  Please identify the 15% you used -- there are lots of people
interested in profiling XML Schema, your input would help.

>   * the few useful features are weak and without honour;

That seems harsh -- could you be a bit more specific?  Take content
models (I presume they're useful) -- what's weak and without honour
about reconstructing sequence and choice, optionality and iteration,
from DTDs into XML notation?

>   * creating a modularized XML Schema is easier than with DTDs, but
>     nowhere near as simple as with RNG;

Where does the difficulty lie -- notation or substance?

>   * while a zillion useless features have been included in the spec,
>     anything useful such as making attributes part of the content model
>     has obviously been weeded out with great care, basically leaving one
>     with DTDs supporting namespaces, a few cardinality bits, no entities,
>     and loads of cruft;

Identifying the cruft (sounds like point 1 above re-iterated,
actually) would be helpful

>   * tools like XML Spy that are supposed to help one write schemata will
>     produce very obviously wrong instances, meanwhile the syntax of XML
>     Schema was obviously produced by someone who grew up at the bottom of
>     a deep well in the middle of a dark, wasteful moor where he was
>     tortured daily by abusive giant squirrels and wishes to share his
>     pain with the world;

That's me (although _my_ moor was very conservative, not wasteful at
all :-)

>   * the resulting schema is mostly useless anyway as there is no tool
>     available that will process it correctly.

Really?  Xerces, .NET, saxon, XSV don't count?

> So my take is I'm not going to the workshop not because I don't want
> to give feedback about XML Schema, but simply because XML Schema is
> irrelevant.

This post has made me think about the evolution of my attitude towards
Java -- in parallel with the poster's experience with W3C XML Schema,
after my first few Java programs I thought it was bloated, full of
features I didn't want, hard to use even for simple things, and to top
it off, the claims of interoperability were empirically false.

Some years later the situation is changed -- I can still produce a
long list of what I think is wrong with Java (although the list is not
the same as it would have been at first), but I can write large Java
programs with reasonable fluidity when I need to, and they tend to
work pretty much the same everywhere.  I think the crucial components
the brought about this change were one part my increased knowledge and
understanding, and two parts outside changes, in particular the
availability of productivity-enhancing SDKs and reliably interoperable

Four years since the launch of W3C XML Schema, I guess I think the
parallels are pretty clear -- you have to invest a certain amount of
real effort to get comfortable enough with the architecture of the
spec so you can reliably put your hands on the right part of it
for a given task; interop is much better than it was (although
certainly not perfect, but for a four-year-old not bad); good SDKs are
_just_ beginning to emerge.  So, for me (not surprisingly), definitely
half-full and still filling, not half-empty.

 Henry S. Thompson, HCRC Language Technology Group, University of Edinburgh
                     Half-time member of W3C Team
    2 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh EH8 9LW, SCOTLAND -- (44) 131 650-4440
            Fax: (44) 131 650-4587, e-mail: ht@inf.ed.ac.uk
                   URL: http://www.ltg.ed.ac.uk/~ht/
[mail really from me _always_ has this .sig -- mail without it is forged spam]


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