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Re: [xml-dev] Use DTDs!

It has been said to me that XML's stripped-down character owes something to HyTime's willingness to account for everything, including parameter and general entities. At the Metastructures '99 conference -- one of the conferences in Balisage's lineage -- TechnoTeacher circulated a full-page bubble diagram of a GROVE that represented an SGML document with a single element with a single word in content and a single attribute, using the full-blown "SGML Property Set" defined in HyTime. The whole 8.5 X 11 page was covered with bubbles and lines. There was nothing short of outrage on the conference floor. The complexity of it all! "The humanity!" One famous person whispered to me, "Too ambitious." Another stood up to say, "This will never fly." And he turned out to be quite right.

But to my eye it was beautiful. There was nothing extra, and nothing was missing, either. It was just the way SGML actually worked, no more and no less. Much of the complexity was owing to general entities, of which the document itself was one, as I recall.

Somewhere I have that diagram. I thought I had put it online, but I can't find it this morning.

On 05/03/2016 07:59 AM, G. Ken Holman wrote:
The same thing happened with Microstar's Near and Far DTD management tool. It became essentially uni-directional from DTD to display. No-one could use it for production maintenance because the author's entity structure and source expression evaporated.

The mistake discovered on day two of the product was the thinking that users would want to use the graphical tool for *all* of the DTD maintenance. If it had been perceived correctly that users needed to preserve their own concept of internal modularization, declaration ordering, commenting, etc., the product would have been designed differently from the ground up and found a more appropriate role in the augmentation of the development/maintenance process and not try to be the be-all and end-all of model building.

Peter Flynn's recent legacy project discussion has revealed that more than 20 years later the product is still being used for visualization. And I think Tommie's coining of the term "DTD scat" still gets used (forgive me if it was one of Tommie's colleagues who came up with the term).

. . . . . . Ken

At 2016-05-02 21:09 -0500, Christopher R. Maden wrote:
On 05/02/2016 08:56 PM, Rick Jelliffe wrote:
I think one of the limitations of the idea of grammar neutrality (ie
freely translate the schema into the particular grammar available for
each tool) is this lack of entity maintenance by some converters.
(Not a good term) Possibly it is a bigger problem than the different
power of the different grammars.
This is what killed EBT.

This is second-hand hearsay, through a filter of 20 years, but the DynaBase project had multiple big-ticket pre-orders before someone noticed that, in parsing the SGML, it normalized away all the entity references, which made it useless for actual ongoing document management, which was its primary selling point.

Fixing that would have involved changes going down to the deepest layers of the parser... which was just no feasible on the announced schedule.

So instead of an IPO making me rich, EBT was sold to Inso (which made a few people rich, entirely deservedly), who proceeded to run everything into the ground.

<paul-harvey>Now you know... the rest of the story.</paul-harvey>


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