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Re: Seduced by Markup

The first thing I do with a DTD is get rid of the parameter entities. IOW, what I care about is scanning it quickly to figure out the structures. I let the engine do the actual validation. Occasionally, I get these wrong and then I am happy to let the machine correct me. Once a DTD has been heavily parameterized, even where named well, a lot of context disappears.

Understand that my task at hand for the first time in my oddly disjointed career is to write the FOSI from scratch without XSLT. Old School. (not my choice; given as a requirement). Having to switch from a DTD-declared system to an XSD declared system, get the business rules from the first and then apply them to the second so the third thing, the PDF rendered document, hides all of that and adds the stuff that the XSDs didn't have slots for (say TMIN numbers, say TOCs, say two way links) and in the output it covers all of that in a standard hierarchically numbered document are part of the "challenge". Note that with the sorta-exceptions of specvals that behave sorta-like if/thens, the programming code is in the editor and renderer black boxes.

This is a "data drive it, stupid" *epic* (inside joke).

It's been... fun... like hitting one's head against a wall to figure out which
wart bleeds first. OTOH, it is a revelation a day about why certain decisions for XML design make sense, when to break the schema, how to apply an out-of-band wrapper document, and so on. As I said: Old School. At times like this I am very glad that I was around when SGML was a draft because I usually know where the hidden rocks are, who made a map of the river and how to read it. In this thread which I read with some entertainment value, I have sympathy for those who have not watched the adventure from jump street. We earned our grey beards one crusty hair at a time. It must be real hell to do it now.

I'm orchestrating a Jacques Brel song this month to record later, so the music metaphor is on my mind. He's a great one to study for the surface simplicity of a chord progression enabling an easy melody that gets it's soul and movement from the accidentals in the harmonies. He was a master of tension realized as emotion. Rock and folk just aren't enough these days.

So it is with XML: learn until you die at the desktop.


Quoting John Cowan <johnwcowan@gmail.com>:

On Mon, Nov 18, 2013 at 11:06 AM, <cbullard@hiwaay.net> wrote:

"So the advantage of DTDs is that they are gibberish to all?"
No.  The advantage is almost everything a human needs to read to interpret
them is in one place.   XSD may be richer in types and a parser writer's
dream, but as a simple human lookup, it sucks.

Sure, but I wasn't comparing DTDs to XSD at all, but to RNG compact syntax.
 It's true that the pieces can be pretty scattered because you can create
arbitrary named patterns, but that's actually *less* arbitrary than
parameter entities.  The advantage of spreading things out in RNG compact
syntax is *so that* you can create better, clearer names, a facility that
can obviously be abused.

MODERATO (quit bitching about the key signature and just play it).


When my daughter was taking piano lessons, she wanted to learn some pop
piece of the day or other, I've forgotten just what.  So I went across the
street to Schirmer's (eheu fugaces!) and bought the sheet music of a piano
reduction.  It was *way* beyond her ability to even read the notation,
because the timing of modern performance is so ill-matched to the way piano
scores are still written.  It's no accident kids are still learning on
pre-20th-century stuff: at least you can learn to read it easily.

On the literary side, the reason Milton's syntax in _Paradise Lost_ is so
opaque, apparently ("Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit of that
forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the world and all our
woe with loss of Eden, till one greater man restore us, and regain the
blissful seat — sing, heavenly Muse, that on the secret top of Horeb or of
Sinai didst inspire that shepherd who first taught the chosen seed in the
beginning how the heavens and earth rose out of chaos" is the first
sentence!), is that he needs to reconcile three things:

1) Getting the sentences to be correct and grammatical English (the verb is
"sing", and it's a command to the Muse).

2) Fitting the meter

3) Getting the sequence of images (disobedience, fruit, tree, death, world,
woe, Eden, Jesus, heaven, muse, Mt. Horeb, Mt. Sinai, shepherd, the Jews,
Creation, heaven, earth, chaos) in the right order.

Getting all of that right means simplicity and clarity are dropped
overboard early.

GMail doesn't have rotating .sigs, but you can see mine at

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