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Re: [xml-dev] Is "Hand Authoring" XML still a critical use case ?

At 9:23 PM +0000 12/9/10, Pete Cordell wrote:
>Original Message From: "B Tommie Usdin"
>>Are there people who hand author XML? Yes. And more often there are 
>>people who fix XML by hand. Are all of these people XML Geeks? No! 
>>Many of them are content experts, and some of them are 
>>clerical/support staff with no programming skills at all.
>To better understand how your people use XML, could you describe the 
>skill sets of your users, and how that relates to how they use XML? 
>(For example I wouldn't expect an abstract modern artist to 
>immediately take to hand crafting XML, whereas a mechanical engine 
>might more readily.)

What they have in common is that they work in prose publishing. They include:

   * subject matter experts -- whose real job is writing about some (non-XML)
   * editors -- whose real job is making prose clear, readable, and in
     conformance with their employer's house style
   * copyeditors and publishing production staff -- whose real job is to
     tidy documents, check and correct references, create or correct document
     metadata, and prepare publications for typesetting and/or electronic
   * typesetters and electronic publishing technicians -- who create
     presentation versions (paper and electronic) of publications

On the whole, their primary expertise is in the subject matter they 
are working with (it could be anything people write about, which 
means anything) and secondarily they know about the publishing 
process. Most have no programming experience at all.

>>I work in a world in which XML users find entities and mixed 
>>content essential, make effective use of DTDs, and find clarity 
>>more important than terseness.
>Could you describe some use-cases of how they use DTDs and entities? 
>(I completely understand how mixed is useful.)

DTDs are used to validate documents, drive context-sensitive editing 
tools, and to tell the maintainers of down-stream processes when to 
expect changes in documents and what changes to accommodate. Pretty 
much the same things that many other uses do with XSD or RNG. My 
point is that DTDs are sufficient for many users and are:
    * known, at least to these users
    * compact and easy to read (once the syntax is learned)
    * consistently interpreted by a wide variety of tools
    * implemented by the tools they have and in which they have significant

>Hypothetically, if XML didn't use DTDs to parse a file, could you 
>come up with some other solution that your users could work with?

Sure. I didn't say they needed to use DTDs, I said DTDs meet their 
needs pretty well, and they have no motivation to make a change that 
would cost them time and money and bring few benefits.

>>In this world document models and document processing 
>>infrastructure are stable for years while content changes 
>>constantly, so it is important to optimize for content creation and 
>>use, not for modeling and support programming. (Making life easier 
>>for XSLT programmers is insignificant compared to making it easier 
>>for document authors, for example.)
>I don't think XML 1.0 is going away anytime soon.

Well, I don't think XML 1.0 is going away either.

However, my users would like some improvements, too. We at Mulberry 
spend a significant amount of time explaining namespaces and solving 
XSLT and Schematron problems that were caused by misunderstandings 
about namespaces, and a not insignificant amount of time being bitten 
by namespace problems ourselves.

I would like better XML, too. I don't want the smaller better 
more-understandable XML to work only for the cool kids; I want it to 
work for me, too.

-- Tommie

>Pete Cordell
>Codalogic Ltd
>Interface XML to C++ the easy way using C++ XML
>data binding to convert XSD schemas to C++ classes.
>Visit http://codalogic.com/lmx/ or http://www.xml2cpp.com
>for more info


B. Tommie Usdin                        mailto:btusdin@mulberrytech.com
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.                http://www.mulberrytech.com
17 West Jefferson Street                           Phone: 301/315-9631
Suite 207                                    Direct Line: 301/315-9634
Rockville, MD  20850                                 Fax: 301/315-8285
   Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in XML and SGML

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