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Re: [xml-dev] Not using mixed content? Then don't use XML

On 3/25/13 8:43 PM, Toby Considine wrote:
> The best (meaning most likely to be widely adopted and successful)
> specifications start with existing practice. It may be your JSO, and someone
> else's field manual and someone else existing business transactions. While
> there are some similarities, they are incompatible in some ways. Often they
> have parts that are over-specified, as Simon describes. Sometimes they have
> aspects that are simply unintelligible to potential partners. Other times,
> the incompatibilities are similar to those in the old big-endian
> little-endian wars, that do not reflect any underlying mismatch.
> Rather than a waterfall, a successful specification effort (as defined
> above), IMO, strives to find the overlaps, to define the
> incomprehensibilities, and to eliminate the superfluous. It may also define
> how to extend, and how to indicate what a receiving party should do if it
> does not understand the extension. This is the opposite of waterfall.

If a specification codifies existing practice, it is possible for it not 
to be waterfall, or at least for the waterfall to be the pleasant 
conclusion of a river reaching the ocean.

That is, to some extent, the story of the original XML and XSLT, which 
were reductions of prior work based on study of actual usage patterns.

I would love to hear of XML vocabularies that were developed through 
usage.  That would mean they were the result of developers creating 
(many) multiple cases of local but different interoperability, which 
later was codified through a standards process.  That doesn't mean 
combining manuals or a few sample documents from participants.  It means 
connecting live conversations and evolving their vocabularies and 

I would even be happy to settle for cases like the XML story, in which 
an over-large specification was eventually whittled down by such a 
process into a smaller and neater subset of itself.

We don't have the Cover Files around any more to tell us of such 
developments - though they may arrive without press releases - but at 
least in my experience they're rare.

(Rarer even than the schema-free respondents to this and related 
threads, whose presence I've been excited to discover.)

Simon St.Laurent

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