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

From: Joe English <jenglish@crl.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 1996 11:19:43 -0800
Message-Id: <199611111919.AA12248@mail.crl.com>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org

bosak@atlantic-83.eng.sun.com (Jon Bosak) wrote:

> 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.

This is a gross misrepresentation of Lee's position.

There is no problem with predefined entities.  There is a big problem  
with canonizing a set of predefined entities that *cannot be redefined
by an XML document or application*.

> | since in SGML you can use it for whatever you like [...]
> | 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.

Why?  There are no predefined entity names in SGML, let alone
reserved, non-overrideable ones.  It's neither obstinate
nor perverse for an author to expect a system that calls itself 
SGML-compatible to follow the rules of SGML.

Besides that, considering the way the Major Players have treated
the issue of putting mathematics on the Web (Netscape:
"There does not appear to be a market for it, but if you 
really want it you can always use JavaScript"; Microsoft:
"There does not appear to be a market for it, but if you
really want it you can always write a VBX"; W3C: "We're
working on the spec.  Trust us.  We're working on the spec")
only the most optimistic Web users expect to see &omega;
recognized by a non-fringe browser any time soon, and even
they would be surprised to see thinks like &image;, &empty;,
&prod;, &clubs;, &perp;, and &nabla; suddenly becoming keywords. 

> | 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?

If the XML general entity namespace is to be at the mercy
of what Netscape decides to implement six months from now,
it would be safest for authors to avoid declaring their own
entities altogether.



--Joe English

  jenglish@crl.com
Received on Monday, 11 November 1996 14:18:39 EST

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