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Let others answer the question of why we can't just
use SGML. In effect, you can. The standard is still
there. You will probably quickly hit some issues about
DOCTYPEs for starters (SGML requires them) but if you
actually want a truly self-descriptive document, that
is what you do. On the other hand, how hard is it
to get a schema from a URI? Not very.
So you'll have to talk about the needs to get traction.
My point was not about the technology per se, but about
the goals of the people using and developing a technology
during a period of time (a zeitgeist). When a group of
people united by a reasonable set of common values are
communicating, the character of what becomes of that
communication is determined by outward or inward measurements.
The early years of XML have been characterized by trying to
implement XML or improve it. That is inward measuring.
Now, given the fashions of xmlhttp objects, it is about
trying to find new things to do with XML and that is much
more what the later years of SGML was like: measuring
the needs of applications over the enabling technology.
One of the two game theory Nobel Prize winners said it: "He is a
producer of game theory. I am a user." It is the difference
between people who design plumbing and those who design pools.
You need both at different times. What is interesting is that
we appear to be on the verge of a disruptive period in XML
plumbing development that could reduce some aspects of interoperability
of the tools and deemphasize standards but cause a dramatic
improvement in productivity (the same goals for XML over SGML)
of the application developers.
It wasn't that one couldn't do integrated open hypermedia
with SGML. One could. It was just hard and the requirements
for integration that made SGML hard were disappearing as
other standards (eg, Unicode) came to play. We are about
to repeat that cycle.
From: sterling [mailto:email@example.com]
What would be the problem of going back to SGML, it works so
much better for so many things? Its sort of like linux vs windows,
it you started with windows, you don't really know what you can do, it
started with linux you cannot get a handle on all the things that are
available for you to do, so that you can od the thing you need done at the
moment? I would like to hear some serious why nots, beside just the
market .. what about the needs?