W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org > November 1996

Re: Recent ERB votes

From: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
Date: Fri, 08 Nov 1996 11:43:30 -0500
Message-Id: <1.5.4.32.19961108164330.00a1d3f4@csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
To: W3C-SGML-WG@w3.org
At 06:17 PM 11/7/96 -0600, Len Bullard wrote:
>> "Natural SGML" may well be some subset that omits a lot of esoterica.
>> However, XML as being defined now will require new tools and will force
>> new decisions upon potential users that will cause extra confusion as
>> they try to figure out what to do with their data.  Whether this ends
>> up being good for the users is still an open question.
>
>It isn't good for the existing SGML users and vendors.  It is an 
>alternative to SGML, not a subset.  That is bad news.

Although I would strongly prefer a standard that works directly with
existing SGML source files, I don't think that a subtly different XML will
"compete" with SGML. Hardly anyone currently serves "real SGML" on the Web
(compared to the number of people that _have_ real SGML). Most people either
don't put it on the Web, or convert it to HTML (losing a lot of
information). Either way we lose.

Although it would not be ideal, an XML that allows a simple, obvious
transform from SGML is MUCH preferable to the current situation. I see a
requirement to transform into XML as an inconvenience but not a show-stopper.

>Pardon, but only one existing application of SGML is contributing 
>to a tag pool, so far.  I understand what political suicide is.

What political environment is this political suicide within? XML isn't an
ISO standard, but a W3C standard. SGML 97 will be, but it will obviously not
mention HTML at all. SGML 97 can standardize the <e/> format as the
"default" representation for "simple SGML" documents. Some HTML-based XML
documents will not be Simple SGML", just as many other legacy SGML documents
will not be Simple SGML. I don't see where political suicide comes in.

SGML 97 and XML have different legacy problems. The ERB wants some subset of
XML documents to be compatible with EXISTING BROWSERS. That seems like a
politically smart move to me.

>I suggest if that is what you want to avoid, retain <e> and 
>state that the added complexity of the parser in XML is to 
>retain compatibility with existing SGML applications and systems
>such as Netscape and Microsoft IE because these are the only 
>Shogun's that will compel you to ritual suicide.  

Could a parser-implementor comment on the extra difficulty imposed by the
"don't worry, be smart" solution? How hard is it?

>Maybe, but if the cost of converting existing legacy to XML is 
>greater than the cost to kluge a way to move SGML onto the 
>Internet even at the risk of monkey-wrenching HTTP, we will do it.

But we already KNOW the cost of kluges. They are _expensive_. DynaWeb is
_expensive_. DTD-specific converters are _expensive_. Panorama is expensive
because most of your users will never download it, and your information will
be lost. If these kluges were cheap, I would wait a few years for the
network to speed up, and processors to speed up and would just put raw SGML
on the Web.

"Simple SGML" (unrelated to the Web) is also interesting and important, but
it could be standardized in SGML 97.

>So far, nothing I see makes me think we even have to do that. 
>All we have to do is be careful about what features we use and 
>do it.  Interoperability with other vendors choices can be an 
>issue worked out in the marketplace, just as it is being done 
>now by the HTML vendors. What I was hoping for from this group 
>was a serious effort to avoid a competition between XML on 
>The Web and SGML On The Web.

SGML on the Web seems to be a non-starter for small to medium sized
companies/departments and individuals of all sizes. Even for big companies,
I think that it is probably misleading to call the current (or near future)
state of affairs "SGML on the Web". Panorama documents are not accessible to
the majority of Web surfers, and SGML-transformed-to-HTML isn't really SGML
anymore. If you are comfortable converting to HTML, you will be even more
comfortable converting to XML (or XHTML, in the short term).

 Paul Prescod
---
Boycott Shell Oil worldwide!  http://www.web.apc.org/embargo/shell.htm    

"Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by counsel
said to be holding a watching brief."..."The ecological war that the Company
has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later." -Ken
Saro-Wiwa to the tribunal that later executed him.
http://www.goldmanprize.org/goldman/ken.html
Received on Friday, 8 November 1996 11:42:24 EST

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