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Making a silk purse out of the schema sows ear - was [xml-dev] Minimal XML Specification

I think the reality is that lots of people flipped the Bozo Bit on the XSD spec in 1999-2000.  They went in different directions, however:  Some to alternative schema languages, some to radical simplification of XML to de-emphasize schemas altogether.


In hindsight, had  people foreseen today's reality that we're stuck with XSD as what the mainstream user thinks of as the "real standard", clearly the energy would have been better spent debugging the wretched thing rather than trying to pretend it doesn't exist or trying to drive a stake thru its heart.  I'm more interested in discussing what to do going forward given the current mess.  The problems I see are:


- The W3C is more interested in moving the XSD spec forward than fixing its numerous ambiguities.  (Their pushback is that the people who want to fix it are not represented on the WG, and the people who have skin in the game want to move forward).

- RELAX NG is clearly "better" for textual documents but doesn't have much support for the data-oriented use cases. (Sure you can plug in the XSD type system, but that's a big part of the problem).  We now have an unpleasant situation of fragmentation where there's little mainstream tool support for RELAX NG due to lack of demand, exploitation of its geek chic (partly to strike a blow against the empire, I suppose), with the result that the normative definitions of Atom and ODF can't be used with most commercial XML tools.  Maybe a good guerilla tactic in the open source wars, but for the moment it's the innocent who suffer the collateral damage.


- Schematron is moving forward as an ISO standard and has some good implementations but has few normative references in vertical industry standards nor mindshare.  (Correct me if I'm wrong about the normative references).


- Lots of people complain about the limitations of XSD that Schematron addresses and the W3C doesn't plan to, especially the lack of occurrence constraints.

The best way forward that I can see is to encourage end users to employ XSD + Schematron as necessary, and encourage W3C to address XSD's  bugs and ambiguities before adding more onto an unstable foundation.   What does that miss that the world actually values? (as much as it depresses me to say it, the world doesn't seem to value RELAX NG's elegance and mathematical foundation very much). 


> Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 18:04:33 +1100
> From: rjelliffe@allette.com.au
> To: elharo@metalab.unc.edu
> CC: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Minimal XML Specification
> Elliotte Harold wrote:
>> Eric van der Vlist wrote:
>>> What makes you think the community would have have changed anything by
>>> spending more time to try to influence the spec?
> What makes you think they couldn't have?
>> It's possible a few of the minor inconsistencies, unclear wording, and
>> outright mistakes could have been fixed had someone noticed them and
>> spoken up at the right time. However the major issues of design and
>> whether this was the right approach to a schema language really was
>> never on the table.
> And people at the time knew this how?
> Cheers
> Rick
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