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Re: Public Identifiers, and CATALOGS

From: Steven R. Newcomb <srn@techno.com>
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 1997 10:02:24 -0500
Message-Id: <199704021502.KAA05518@bruno.techno.com>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org

My two cents about this PUBLIC thing.  It's a requirements issue, and
it should be settled as a requirements issue.  (Sorry.)

On the one hand, if we're too strict in our attitude that, "If it
doesn't have to do with the Web, it has no place in XML," we may, in
fact, be defeating ourselves.  Shouldn't XML's status as a profile of
SGML allow us to confer upon XML the single most basic incentive for
people to choose SGML: some measure of document portability?
"Portability" for XML documents must mean "ability to be ported to
non-Web environments," right?  In which case, PUBLIC, catalogs,
and perhaps other document portability features should be included
in the XML design.

The second alternative (is this your position, Jon?) is to state that
XML is not about document portability, and therefore XML should not be
used as the source code of documents that may also appear off-Web.
(For source code, use SGML instead.)  If we're not worried about
portability, and XML is only for Web-mediated delivery of documents
whose source code is in another form, then why is the use of PUBLIC
and catalogs even an issue?  Simply generate a system-dependent (i.e.,
Web-dependent) URL (or whatever else may be needed to take advantage
of Web-defined resolution facilities) when the document is issued or
published in XML form.

Here's a truth table summarizing the above paragraphs:

               XML docs are portable      XML docs are for Web only
               ---------------------      -------------------------

XML needs
PUBLIC, catalogs         yes                      no


There is, of course, a third alternative, but it's a very bad one:
promote XML as if it were a portable language suitable for source
code, but don't equip it with the facilities needed to support
portability.  Maybe I misread the discussion up to now, but there
seems to me some small danger of that happening, which is the reason
for this note.  Let's choose from the first two alternatives, and
avoid this third one (*shudder*), which will cause professional
headaches and nightmares for all of us.


             Steven R. Newcomb   President
         voice +1 716 271 0796   TechnoTeacher, Inc.
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      Internet: srn@techno.com    Rochester NY 14618)
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    WWW: http://www.techno.com   Rochester, NY 14692-3795 USA
Received on Wednesday, 2 April 1997 10:52:53 EST

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