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Re: Courting Joe Homepage



Dave Hollander wrote:
> 
> > At 06:53 PM 17/9/96 +0100, William D. Lindsey wrote:
> >
> > > Web page authors will move to XML
> > >because of the new things it lets them do, not because all they need
> > >to do is replace "<HTML>" with "<HTXML>", and make sure they've
> > >explicitly opened and closed all the elements.
> > >
> > If Web page authors can't reference other web pages, or be referenced by
> > them, without a seamless interface in their XML tools they will not care a
> > fig for the extra things they can do with XML. At present XML is only likely
> > to be of interest to corporations who specifically do not want their
> > information made generally available on the Web. Joe Homepage will have to
> > go elsewhere!
> 
> <SOAPBOX> <!-- sorry, but the details mean nothing without common goals -->
> 
> I have not had time to study all the issues that this argument impacts,
> however, I believe that if the results of our efforts are only used by
> large publishers/corporations we will have missed an opportunity to
> serve the greatest need.</>

<soapbox>Are the needs of the homepage maker more urgent than the needs
of the 
corporation?  HTML gets a lot of support.  The adopters of SGML who 
have invested a lot of resources in sticking with the standards, 
creating well-modeled data, in other words, playing to the rules 
have taken the shaft from the WWW.  I am much more interested in 
enabling Internet access to SGML as practiced than I am in fixing 
the problems of bad practice.</soapbox>

XML is to simplify SGML.  I currently use a browser that already does 
this.  In no way does its features make it something only a large
publisher or corporation can use.  All a user has to do is define 
elements and create a stylesheet for them.  That's all point and 
click.  If they want to use a DTD, they can write one and batch 
validate.  That works.  If they want to do configured editing,
take the DTD and give it to a validation editor like SoftQuad's
Author/Editor and tell the browser that is the editor to call 
when asked.  Easy.  A bit cheaper editor is needed, but that 
would be an immediate benefit of XML.

> When I look around at of the information trapped on the web in
> presentational markup, aka HTML, I get depressed.  When written, most
> authors are only responding to the pressure to get a page on the web
> and viewable with the browser de-jour.  However, later I need to make
> better use of that information and am unable to because of the complete
> lack of non-presentational semantics.  

Yes.  That is a situation created by vendors and willing authors.  
It will not change because we tell them to.  It is a manufactured
crisis.  Only the availability of alternatives and the need and will to
use them will alter that course.

> Please, XML must be able to improve the value of the millions of web pages.
> 
> Do we agree with this goal?

The goal is too ambiguous to agree to as stated.  We can't, we musn't 
weaken XML to fix the problems that popular bad practice  
creates.   We can certainly state that the HTML 3.2 DTD 
is one which *should* be expressible as an XML DTD.  But there are many 
other sources of legacy and their requirements are also important.

It may be that HTML 3.2 has to change to meet XMLs requirements.
That is not unthinkable.  This is, after all, a W3C working group.
If the WG8 members present are helping to ensure that the revision 
of SGML and the creation of XML are cooperative, isn't it 
reasonable to expect the same of the owners of the HTML DTD?

So, yes, I agree XML must improve the value of the work of those who
create web pages, because where HTML is an XML application, it 
falls within the goals to provide simpler SGML.  Where it is not
and can't be, then any overlap is coincidental.

len bullard
lockheed-martin


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