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

Re: XML vrs SGML tools [was Re: Capitalizing on HTML (was ...)]]]

From: Derek Denny-Brown <derdb@techno.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 18:13:22 -0400
Message-Id: <199609202213.SAA01571@moby.techno.com>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
> From: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
> >3.  We're trying to create XML so as to encourage more/better/cheaper
> >    tools.  So my question is:  what's wrong with current tools--from
> >    an end user's point of view--that won't be wrong with XML tools?
> >    What is the barrier to entry to SGML from an end user's point of view
> >    and how does XML propose to address it?  
> 
> The barrier to entry for SGML is that it must be converted to HTML because
> browser writers won't support a language with a DTD. XML solves the browser
> writers' problem, which will also solve the end user problem (providing we
> don't overcomplicate XML in our obsession with ease of parsing).

XML on its own does not solve the browser problem.  The browser
writers are still faced with the problem of style sheets.  The reason
there are so many cheap HTML browsers is because it is _very_ easy to
figure out how to display HTML (well, for the most part).  DSSSL may
solve the problem, but it solves it in a rather difficult to
understand and implement way.  XML will be an easy sell to browser
writers if it comes packaged with a useful but simple style-sheet
mechanism.  DSSSL might work, if someone would write a good book about
it, or at least about DSSSL online.  Maybe Cascading Style Sheets
(CSS) is an easy (quick and dirty) answer; I have not had a chance to
look into it properly.  There was a great deal of discussion about why
CSS is too simplistic a month back on comp.text.sgml, but it may be
"good-enough" for a first run.  Every one here seems to want XML tools
today, but we don't even have a DSSSL capable browser now, how many
months after the standard's publication?

I do not mean to cut down DSSSL.  DSSSL looks to me to be a great
possiblity, for the future.  A XML/DSSSL browser will not be able to
compete with a HTML browser in today's market though.  It will look too
slow.  It will definitely have a market, but it will lack a real
mass-market appeal.  (But boy would I kill for a good, extensible
DSSSL browser to play with... with some work on on-line display
extensions to the standard, you could use SGML/DSSSL to do everything that
HTML, CSS, Java, Javascript, etc are _trying_ to do now.  Now that
would be fun.)

XML is one important part of the picture, and although DSSSL is one
way to help fill in the whole picture, I don't see it as being an
immediate answer.  No, I don't have any better ideas, and I would love
to be proved wrong. (This is one of those rare cases where I _want_ to
be wrong.)

-enjoy,
  derek

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Derek Denny-Brown <derdb@techno.com> | Technical Staff @ TechnoTeacher, Inc.
  http://www.techno.com/~derdb/      |    work-phone: (716) 389-0963
      SGML/HyTime/DSSSL/WWW          |      http://www.techno.com/

Best regards,

--Steve

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Received on Friday, 20 September 1996 18:53:39 EDT

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