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Re: [xml-dev] Martin Fowler on Schemaless Data Structures

> On 2015 Apr 9, at 14:55, Christopher R. Maden <crism@maden.org> wrote:
> History repeats itself...
> <URL: https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-sgml-wg/1996Oct/0472.html >

That's a high-class discussion -- thank you for finding that (I always took a great deal of pleasure from the way the SGML world managed to combine practical instincts with sophisticated principle, and a wide range of intellectual reference with a generally excellent prose style).

Some gems from that thread are below.

Jon Bosak:
> The whole idea of XML is that any CS
> graduate can construct a parser for it from the BNF grammar set forth
> in the specification without knowing anything at all about SGML.

(Len Bullard added: "...in a week").

It might be worth reminding ourselves that XML was designed to be The Simple One.

David Durand:
> Pardon the philosophical note, but how else should one respond to
> syntaxt-definition discussions where the mind of God plays a significant
> role!

I don't think there's any answer to that.

Bill Smith:
> HTML users may in fact be oblivious to this debate - that is their gain. 
> However, they won't ignore the issue that HTML is not sufficient for their 
> needs. Solutions to their problems will be found, and they will look far more 
> like VisualBasic or JavaScript than any markup language we have devised.

This was in 1996.  That's what's termed a 'Successful Prediction'.

> It seems Charles and I agree in our instincts that it is, or could
> be.  It seems clear from the confused reactions of others that our
> instincts are wrong in this case:  the idea is simple, but the
> obvious way of expressing it conveys something other than that simple
> idea to many readers who ought, if possible, to be able to read the
> XML spec with comprehension, if not always with the highest pitch of
> aesthetic pleasure.  That's an argument against using the notion in
> the documentation.

I recognise that frustration ('why don't people _get_ it?!').  This is an object lesson in withdrawing a suggestion with dignity and style.

And I have a fondness for the XML spec, but even I think that 'the highest pitch of aesthetic pleasure' would still be found comfortably on the left hand side of the piano.

> O.K. It is now clear that in XML a document "without a DTD" means literally
> that, and not just "parsable without reference to  its DTD". I think this is
> unfortunate because I believe it will render XML a non-starter in the
> marketplace.

I think this comes under the heading of an 'unsuccessful prediction'.

All the best,


Norman Gray  :  http://nxg.me.uk
SUPA School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK

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