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Re: [xml-dev] XML based wiazrd

On Thu, May 17, 2007 at 08:15:27AM -0400, Sam Carleton wrote:
> I need to develop a Wizard.  It will be some what complex with many
> final destinations, based on how the user answers questions.  My
> thought was that I could map this out the whole thing in XML, having
> one question with the possible answers, and then in each answer have
> the next question and so on.

Can you separate out the data from the logic, and have only the
data in the XML?  Or at the very least some sort of declarative
way of expressing relationships, rather than a procedural approach?

Then maybe consider using XSLT and/or XQuery to combine the user's
responses, the data and the logic.

> I asked on another forum and someone recommended IETM (Interactive
> Electronic Technical Manual).  From what I have been able to tell it
> is a SGML format used by the military for trouble shooting manuals.

I don't know if they ever actually deployed them to any great
extent - maybe.  They were fairly complex, and had the disadvantage
(in my view at least) that documentation staff often have neither
the training nor the necessary tools to do programming and debugging
of complex software.  You ended up with if-then-else and variable
assignments, for example, but without user-defined functions that
you could use in conditions.  But I think I worked with a draft of
the spec, it was a long time ago!

Adding more power to make documentation "live" is a very good
goal.  Outside of military environments, you have to ask who
will do exactly what work, and what sort of skills will be
required, and how they will be motivated, and this can lead
to a different separation... just as we're seeing XQuery used
in a back end of a Web application, then XSLT making Web pages,
with XHTML and CSS at the front.

By the way, there are also Wizard tools for the GTK+ toolkit that can
use XML for the user interface via Glade and libglade.


Liam Quin, W3C XML Activity Lead, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
http://www.holoweb.net/~liam/ * http://www.fromoldbooks.org/

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