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Re: [RIF-APS] Rules Sign

From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@nist.gov>
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2008 12:41:58 -0400
Message-ID: <48C00FD6.3060607@nist.gov>
To: Hassan Ait-Kaci <hak@ilog.com>
CC: public-rif-wg@w3.org


I sympathize with your position:

> I thought it was understood by all here that with a Presentation
> Syntax for rules, this WG was *not* designing a new universal
> rule language. We are simply defining shorthands that are
> somewhat easier to read and write by humans than their normative
> XML counterparts. The RIF PS is meant to help a human agent read
> and write RIF examples and allow the automated generation of the
> XML form from the PS form. Thus, such a PS should:
>   (1) be simple and unambiguous to parse by software; and,
>   (2) easy, by not excessively so, to manipulate by humans.
> Why "not excessively so"? Because - again - we are *not*
> designing a new universal rule language! We are just defining
> (relatively) less ugly shorthands for (absolutely)ugly XML! :-)

But what you seem not to realize is that because the PS is the only 
human-readable form, it is the one that will be used in teaching 
programmers and users and most importantly _students_ how to use and 
interpret the RIF.  And that means it will become a de facto standard 
notation.  And like it or not, teacher/student usage will beget a demand 
for your tools to support it.

I have seen 4 standards in the last 5 years agree that all they are 
going to standardize is the XML exchange notation, so that authors and 
vendors can protect their proprietary languages.  But they can't 
actually write the standard in XML and they can't write the examples in 
XML, because human readers have a hard time finding the beef in the XML 
bun.  So they invent a "convenience notation", a non-normative 
"presentation syntax", or some other euphemism for "new language".

The PS _will be_ a standard language for rules authoring.  People will 
use it to teach and learn.  And they will want tools to support it.  We 
have stepped into this, and we won't be able to get it off our shoes. 
That is why there is so much concern about the details of its fragrance.


Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@nist.gov
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."
Received on Thursday, 4 September 2008 16:43:24 UTC

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