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

Re: (Repeat) Decision: C.4 (Predefined entities)

From: Jon Bosak <bosak@atlantic-83.Eng.Sun.COM>
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 1996 16:06:11 -0800
Message-Id: <199611110006.QAA10675@boethius.eng.sun.com>
To: lee@sq.com
CC: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
| > The list that we've adopted simply mirrors a decision of the HTML ERB.
| > Their decision was to include the symbol set; the characters that Paul
| > mentions aren't in it.  No argument about relative usefulness here,
| > just consistency of W3C recommendations.
| 
| Consistency with HTML?

Consistency with W3C recommendations.  As I said.

| > All we're doing is recognizing usage in as conservative a way as
| > possible.  To millions of people, these entity names have become part
| > of the language.
| 
| The names from the Symbol font are in use by millions of people?
| I don't believe this.  Actually, apart from the accented characters
| in ISO 8859-1, I don't accept that any of those entity names are being
| typed knowingly by such quantities of people, and since many of these
| entities don't work in today's browsers, I don't buy this at all.

I meant the entities from the HTML 3.2 set.  Your argument seems to be
with having any predefined entity names at all.  I'm pointing out that
you have already lost that battle.
 
| Have you tried them in Netscape 2.02?  Netscape 3?  MSIE 3?

Have you tried them in the versions of these browsers that will
available six months from now?  Check with Lauren if you don't believe
me; she was at the same meeting.

| > Anyone who uses &omega; at this point to mean
| > anything other than GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA is either being
| > obstinately perverse or just ignorant.
| 
| Possibly, but since it doesn't mean that in HTML 2.0, nor in the
| implementations in use, and since in SGML you can use it for whatever you
| like, it would not be unreasonable for someone to use it for the
| engineering OHM symbol, for example.  The SGML documentation for the
| "omega" game might well use it for the name of that game, and I
| would not call those people "obstinately perverse" nor "ignorant".

I certainly would if they intended their documents for distribution
over the Web.

| And taking a name like "prod" seems especially hard to defend.

I said that I didn't like all of the names.  That's not the point.

| > All we can do is to
| > make the most common names part of the standard so that we are at
| > least doing our best to eliminate the latter possibility.
| 
| If you allow them to be overridden in documents, then it is no longer
| a problem if people have existing material using them.

We have said a couple of times now that they cannot be overridden in
documents.

| If you have a fixed list, it would be sensible to make it smaller.

Smaller than what every Web browser in the world will support six
months from now?  Why?

| I'm worried about this.  Should I be?  Is XML going to be less useful
| for its stated purpose (using SGML over the Internet) as a result?
| I think so.

I don't.

[... I'll let someone else deal with some of the other points ...]

| So when you say:
| > No argument about relative usefulness here,
| > just consistency of W3C recommendations.
| 
| what I in fact see is total arbitrariness.  What am I missing?

Maybe the fact that the human use of language evolves in ways that
seem arbitrary sometimes and that you have to deal with that if you
want to communicate?

I think that it's a terrible shame we ever started using the
vernacular for written communication; think of how much simpler our
work would be if Latin were still the standard.  But you can't keep
the peasants in line no matter how many academies you set up.  The
peasants like offloading their declensions onto word order; they
appear to like character entities, too.

Jon
Received on Sunday, 10 November 1996 19:08:13 EST

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