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WG8 slowness (was Re: Update on namespaces)

From: Rick Jelliffe <ricko@allette.com.au>
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 1997 15:58:37 +1000
Message-Id: <199706200600.QAA30516@jawa.chilli.net.au>
To: <cbullard@hiwaay.net>, <w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org>
 
> From: len bullard <cbullard@hiwaay.net>
 
>  It also puts a 
> lot of pressure on WG8 to keep the parent standard moving.  Some of you 
> have publically and privately expressed your disbelief and lack of faith
> in 
> WG8's judgement and ability.  I think the SGML/XML negotiations prove
> otherwise.

As only a recent delegate to WG8, I hope I can say something about WG8 and
the 10 years of SGML development without seeming defensive.

People are saying "WG8/ISO is so slow".  But at the last meeting in May we had a TC (that had already been through 8 circulated
drafts) ready to support XML better. Voting on this would result in ISO 8879 being in step with XML in December when XML 1.0 goes
from draft to final.  So WG8 is as fast as this WG's timetable!  

The ERB members on WG8 took pains to stress that the enhancements in the WebSGML TC were not *required* by the ERB: the TC is WG8
embracing XML and the particular issues that are faced to adapt SGML for a new medium.  If acceptance of the TC actually takes a
few extra months (i.e. January 97 or whatever), then no-one should say this represents WG8 slowness: we have not been asked to
precede XML, indeed we definitely do not want to put out our TC before XML 1.0 is finalized!!!

As I see it, WG8/ISO has been accumulating and investigating technically sound enhancements to SGML for several year: SGML general
facilities (FSI's etc), HyTime, DSSSL, the character/glyph model, the set/encoding model, ENR, the Japanese namespace module
system, fragment exchange and so on.  This means that when an industry group like this wants to create a profile of SGML for some
particular reason, there already is a strong understanding of the issues and possiblities. Last year saw a TC, this year will see
one (WebSGML) and the namespace TC is under discussion (with much of the discussion being done on this list).

I don't think the WG8 should be accused of being slow. The real difficulty, in my eyes, is that they have been intent on exploring
how SGML can be used for the largest problems, rather than how can it be used for small ones.   I certainly think this is the real
critisism: the perceived slowness is due to a misapprehension of their focus.  WebSGML TC represents a big change in WG8 focus,
towards allowing "small is beautiful".

The people calling for namespaces (rather than URI-ish GIs) are, in my eyes, perhaps in danger of reverting to that baroque-izing
"think big" mentality themselves. 


Rick Jelliffe
Received on Friday, 20 June 1997 02:00:52 EDT

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