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Re: [xml-dev] Argument: Software design is important, data designis not

Where data are concerned, context is not the primary thing.  Instead,
context is the *only* thing.  If the context is source code or
executable behavior, well, that's better than nothing at all.  But it's
not as useful as a clear and consistent commitment to a tagging
vocabulary, even if the vocabulary is not explicitly defined.  Source
code is oracular at best, and so is behavior at execution time.  A
vocabulary, though, is much simpler to grasp, and one's grasp of it is
much simpler to test.

Marshall McLuhan was right: "The medium is the message."  If your
message is software, fine.  If your message is data with potential
utility outside the scope of some specific software, then your message
is data, not software.  In the latter case, you'd better pay attention
to the message-y nature of the data.  Considered as a message, how
clear, compelling and consistent is it?  Consistency begins with
syntactic consistency, but it certainly doesn't end there.

If "what matters is giving consumers the information they need...", then
it must also matter how much it costs to do that.  It is easily
demonstrated that a given datum will not always be useful to consumers
in a single software context.  Therefore, either data must be re-used,
or the cost of developing data must be re-incurred.  If data must be
re-used, then there is a better way to re-use it than to begin by
scratching one's head over the intent that *may* be revealed by
examining someone else's source code (assuming you can even get it),  or
by examining the behavior of the running code (assuming it's still running).

Now, the problem with my argument about this is that it really doesn't
matter to anyone whose message is software, not data.  The "killer app"
myth, like many other forms of fundamentalism, refuses to die.  There
are always more young people willing to adopt it in favor of something
more challenging and more subtle.  Young people are impatient.

It's a question of context, really.  If one lives long enough, one
eventually discovers that one's gods have always turned out to be too
small.  The problem with the argument, Roger, is not that it's wrong;
it's that it limits its context to the region in which it's true.

On 11/12/2013 09:32 AM, Costello, Roger L. wrote:
> Hi Folks,
> An argument:
> ---------------------------------------------
> In the final analysis what matters is giving consumers the information they need in a form that is useful to them and performing the actions they request. And it is software which does that. So it doesn't matter whether you use a data format that is simple and lightweight, or complex and heavyweight. In fact, the design of data to be exchanged matters very little, as long as all the data that is needed exists. At the consuming end software can extract the data and store it in memory in a form suitable for efficient processing. Software is king! Data design is only needed to the extent that you document and define what it contains; other than that, do whatever you want. Software design is important, data design is not. 
> What is data design anyway? A typical response is: a good data design is one that enables software to do its job better/easier. Again we see that data is just in a supporting role to software; data is not the lead character (to use an acting metaphor). If the data is to be consumed by diverse software packages, a single data design cannot make all the software packages do their job better/easier, so why bother doing any design? Arguing that one data design is better than another is a waste of time and, in fact, it's meaningless. Spend minimal time on data design and create great software designs.
> ---------------------------------------------
> What's wrong with that argument?
> /Roger
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