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[Off topic: lessons learned] Re: [xml-dev] Why is there an "S" inXSLT?

Costello, Roger L. wrote, On 2008-05-19 17:55:
> David Carlisle wrote:
>> XSLT has two alternative names for the top level element
> Write this:
>    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
>    <trn:transform xmlns:trn="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform";
>                   version="2.0">
>        ...
>    </trn:transform>
> Comments?
I am relatively new to XML and while encountering XSL(T+FO) I believe I 
experienced a similar feeling as you: why on earth have they called it 
this? However, a few lessons learned from other areas kept me from 
trying to change the world:
1) In active database research there was a discussion in late 1980 and 
beginning of 1990 to call it reactive databases instead. The concept 
reactive database would fit the idea better than the concept of active 
database, BUT the concept of active databases had been around for 
approximately 8-10 years with numerous research reports, funding 
applications, numerous researchers etc. The decision was to stick with 
the concept of active databases.
2) In real-time databases, we have been discussing using something else 
than ACID properties of transactions, but we usually use ACID as a basis 
and then tell the differences. The reason is that in databases, ACID 
properties is a well know idea. Changing it to, for example, ACIM where 
M stand for mission time rather than durability does not significantly 
improve the situation.
3) Prof. David L. Parnas has described an interesting issue in the 
american navy. He tried to change an error message on the screen in the 
cock pit of their new fighters that were in the requirements engineering 
phase while he was involved in the project. He was not allowed to. The 
background story according to Prof. Parnas is as follows (if I remember 
  The fighter air craft are fitted with two altitude sensors: one for 
atmospheric pressure which is useful when you are flying upside down and 
a radar which is useful when you are flying in the mountains. Since 
fighters can be damaged, these two sensors can be broken. Currently, the 
display then shows 3000 ft (or something similar) if they are broken.The 
manual and instructions for flying the fighter then states: If the 
displays shows 3000 feet ascend and if it still shows 3000 feet ascend 
further. The figure 3000 feet is the average altitude that these fighter 
fly on: a height which they rarely fly on. it came into being when a 
programmer realized that the requirements in an earlier version of their 
fighter realized that there was no requirement for the situation when 
the height sensors were broken. The programmer did the right thing: he 
phoned a user, a pilot in the navy. Unfortunately, he asked the  wrong 
question: "What is the average altitud of that the fighters fly on?". 
The pilot, being a true military, did not question the question, but 
answered after a few moments of calculations: "3000 feet". Thus, the 
error message 3000 feet came into being. After this it has entered 
manuals, classes etc.
4) A friend of mine works in a factory where they changed the 
maintenance management system. The system cost approximately SEK 
15'000'000. The initial costs for educating of the staff is 
approximataly SEK 5'000'000 ( a few hundred employees went on training 
sessions for a couple of days). He believed that it would take 1-2 years 
before they would be using the new system properly.

The bottom line is: the world is full of idiosyncracies (as someone else 
pointed out) for various reasons. The typical reason is that we cannot 
foretell the future and when we name things it is difficult, if not 
impossible, to put really good names on things. Sometimes we are lucky. 
If a concept has been around for a while and been accepted by a large 
user community, then it is difficult to change since the concept is part 
of the legacy of the area. Changing such concepts cost money. In tthe 
case of XSLT, there are numerious books, articles, web pages using the 
prefix "xsl".

Carpe Diem!
Jonas Mellin, Assistant Professor in Computer Science
School of Humanities and Informatics, Building E-2
University of Skövde, P.O. Box 408, SE-541 28 Skövde, Sweden
Phone: +46 500 448321, Fax: +46 500 448399
Email: jonas.mellin@his.se, URL: http://www.his.se/melj

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