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Re: Make DTDs optional?

From: Charles F. Goldfarb <Charles@SGMLsource.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996 13:15:27 GMT
To: Robert Streich <streich@slb.com>
Cc: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>, w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
Message-ID: <324fc5e6.1661806391@mail.alink.net>
On Mon, 30 Sep 96 01:04:44 CDT, Robert Streich <streich@slb.com> wrote:

>At 10:25 AM 9/28/96 -0400, Paul Prescod wrote:
>> * Because XML is widely supported (we hope). 
>> * Because XML is compact (we hope). 
>> * Because XML will preserve whatever structure exists in the document (and
>>Word allows quite a bit). 
>> * Because XML is more portable, more device-independent and more widely
>>supported than Word for Windows format.
>> * Because XML is "open" and standardized.
>> * Because XML is easy to full-text index.
>
>I don't get it. Which of these doesn't apply to HTML? And why would Jane
>Author want to mess with creating a structured doc?
>
>If a bunch of authors create a bunch of documents with a bunch of DTDs
>and a bunch of stylesheets then how is that any better than what we
>have now? If this were useful, I could just buy a bunch of DynaTags
>and automap all of the styles. Yeccch.
>
>confused

You're not a bit confused. You're just pointing out what none of us wants to
face up to -- there is a strong element of wishfulness in our plans for HTML.

[Paul also said:]
>For instance, let's say Jane Author is working in Word for Windows. The
>document she is creating does not conform to any DTD I know of. When its
>done, however, she wants to deliver it as XML. Why? 

Not a chance! Because:

>
> * Because XML is widely supported (we hope). 

RTF is available on every non-Unix system (and maybe on Unix systems too.)

> * Because XML is compact (we hope). 

She has no idea of the size of her files.

> * Because XML will preserve whatever structure exists in the document (and
>Word allows quite a bit). 

She doesn't know what structure is, nor does she care. If it looks right, it is
right.

> * Because XML is more portable, more device-independent and more widely
>supported than Word for Windows format.

We might create an XML that is more portable and device-independent, but more
widely supported than the flagship application of the world's largest computer
company ... pure fantasy!

> * Because XML is "open" and standardized.

Not important ... she'd rather have the latest vendor goodies. (Consider the
experience with Netscape and HTML.)

I think the sooner we abandon the fantasy that anyone but SGML users will want
XML the sooner we can focus on designing a viable language. Here is my
reasoning:

1. No vendor with a dominant market share will voluntarily adopt a standard that
will open his market to competitors. 

2. No users will press a vendor for XML support except those who already
understand the value of a structured,  renditionless information representation
-- in other words, SGML users.

3. They won't get that support unless we make XML absurdly easy to implement.
That means a delivery form of an SGML instance with no tricky parsing,no SGML
declaration, and no DTD.

--
Charles F. Goldfarb * Information Management Consulting * +1(408)867-5553
           13075 Paramount Drive * Saratoga CA 95070 * USA
  International Standards Editor * ISO 8879 SGML * ISO/IEC 10744 HyTime
 Prentice-Hall Series Editor * CFG Series on Open Information Management
--
Received on Monday, 30 September 1996 09:17:00 EDT

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