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some topics we haven't yet discussed



We have two weeks left in our month of open discussion; I've been trying
to see what topics need to be (further) discussed, and which probably
don't need (further) discussion.  I have arrived at a satisfyingly long
list of things I think we don't need to discuss, and a mildly alarming
list of things that haven't yet been discussed enough, or in some cases
at all.

I'm not going to post the first list, of things I think we don't need
to discuss, since that could backfire badly.

The topics I think we need to discuss before we close the voting
booth, so people can make up their minds intelligently, fall into
several classes:  those relating to entities and their declarations,
those relating to element declarations, those relating to attribute
declarations, and a fourth group of general and miscellaneous issues.

I'll separate out the other three groups into distinct postings, for the
sake of mail archives with threading mechanisms.

Here's my list of general and miscellaneous issues raised by the various
specific proposals on the table, which I think the WG needs to address
before the ERB actually starts drafting.  Clause numbers are attached,
for those who want to look at the voting booth to see how the proposals
now deal with these issues, or at 8879 to see what it says.  I've also
added a few parenthetical comments; apologies to those who think I'm
flogging any dead horses.)

Participants may also wish to read the relevant proposals, if they
haven't already.


* Should XML use the markup-declaration syntax described by ISO 8879
clauses 10-11, or should XML define a specialized document type and let
its markup declarations use the document-instance syntax, as proposed by
MGML?

(Using the same syntax for declarations and instances cuts the size of
the grammar approximately in half.  It also reflects a firm belief that
structured information belongs in SGML documents.)

* How should XML deal with the need for conditional inclusion of markup
declarations, if XML has no marked sections (10.4.1)?

(In instances, people seem happy to use elements to contain the
conditional text.  If XML uses instance syntax for markup declarations,
such conditional-inclusion elements can be used for the purpose.)

* Should XML change the delimiter-in-context rules to require the STAGO
and ERO strings to be escaped whenever they are not to be recognized as
delimiters (9.6)?

(Some people have proposed this; certainly many user manuals I've seen
prescribe this behavior for users, rather than explaining the d-i-c
rules.)

* Should XML use MSOCHAR, MSSCHAR, and MSICHAR strings (9.7)?

(If MSSCHAR is '\', then \< and \& are escaped in the expected way.
Unlike most Unix-style backslash escapes, however, the MSSCHAR is not
removed from the data stream; this means \ characters in existing docs
are safe.)

* Should XML require system and public identifiers to be FORMAL (13.5)?

* Should XML restrict comment declarations to a single comment (10.3)?

(Motivation:  the hash made of SGML comments by some current HTML
browsers; simplifying the syntax might make it harder to get wrong.)

-C. M. Sperberg-McQueen