Re: Back to basics

[Liam Quin:]

| So for deploying SGML on the web, I think we are there today, and the
| right question may be `Is this where we want to be?  Why are we not
| satisfied?'.
| I don't want to start a flame war about this.  Clearly Panorama does
| _not_ satisfy the goal in everyone's minds, or this list wouldn't
| exist.  Or is the stated goal merely a political front for a Higher
| Goal?  (better reply privately on that one!)

I don't mind responding publicly as long as it's clearly understood
that this is just my own opinion.

Panorama is a magnificent application.  It's so good, in fact, that it
serves as a proof that the lack of an implementation isn't the problem
here.  To my mind, it's the lack of ubiquity that's the problem.  I
believe that SGML functionality needs to be ubiquitous before content
providers will be encouraged to make SGML data available as an
optional high-level alternative to the HTML that they will be serving
from their SGML databases (which is how I visualize this happening).
In my vision of a transition to SGML on the Web, two things occur to
make SGML browser capability ubiquitous:

1. Entrepreneurial ISVs are enabled to try their luck in a new market
by developing XML applications, i.e., applications that can consume an
SGML that has been made much easier to implement.  These applications
could be browsers or they could be special-purpose applets.  I think
that this is what Len means when he speaks of another house to burgle.

2. One or more of the big and soon-to-be-big browser vendors
(Netscape, Microsoft, Spyglass, JavaSoft) are encouraged to build XML
support into their standard HTML offerings.

The introduction of XML applications from multiple vendors is enabled
simply by the existence of a properly designed XML.  Whether the
transition to XML as a standard browser format can be made to occur
without participation of one of the larger players is an open
question.  My own opinion on this changes daily, but I do believe that
our job will be much easier if we can persuade one of the HTML browser
vendors to choose XML for their next forward leap in functionality
rather than choosing something that they invent on their own.

I suspect that people will have different opinions on this last point,
but I don't think that it really matters for purposes of the current
effort; as far as I can tell, the simplification that makes XML
attainable for the independent developer is exactly the simplification
that allows us to make a reasonable case for its adoption by the big


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