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Re: some topics we haven't yet discussed



At 02:08 PM 24-09-96 GMT, Charles F. Goldfarb wrote:
>Michael Sperberg-McQueen wrote:
>
>>(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.)
>
>I believe in the second sentence, but the first one sounds like a red
herring to
>me, because:
>
>1. The implementation code isn't cut in half, or anything like it. You still
>have to process the semantics of the declarations.

Ya, but Michael was not commenting on the implementations, only the grammar.
>
>2. The grammar may be reduced, but now you have to define and document a DTD.

Yes, exactly.  That is what I would like to be able to do.
SoftQuad developed an internal tool -- DTDocumenter -- to read
a DTD and transform into a SGML instance with its own DTD
just so that we could document a DTD. If the DTD were in 
standard SGML instance syntax, then we could use Panorama
to display the DTD with whatever stylesheet we wanted to 
document it. A DTD for DTDs could also include a formal
way to include a human readable description of the element
and attribute declarations. That would be a good thing!
>
>3. Most users, and many experts, have trouble distinguishing tags, from
>elements, from element types. If we use elements to define elements, the
>confusion will only get worse.

The fact that so many users have trouble distinguishing these
things should be telling us that these distinctions are 
not very important to them. Honestly, I don't see why they
should be important to users. Users want something that 
they can understand and SGML is not something that can
be easily understood.

Before I get flamed for saying that, please allow me to elaborate
on my position.  I am not an expert on SGML by any stretch
of the imagination. A brief conversation with any of the 
real experts in the crowd who know me will confirm that.
I have been lurking on this list until now because I did 
not want to slow you all down with ill-informed questions.
But...

I want to use something that I can understand. To some extent,
SGML is that. That is, to the extent that I need to understand
it, SGML is understandable. My failure to understand starts 
when I can't do something that I think should be obvious or when
I get a result that I don't expect. (RS/RE rules are a perfect 
example of that.)

Now, back to DTDs. I want someting that I can work with in 
one tool. I want to be able to read and write a DTD. I want
to be able to declare an element type and its attributes,
and I want to be able to explain the whys and wherefores
right there in the DTD in such a way that a downstream
processor can produce reasonable documentation. I also
want to be able to _add_ attributes to an element type.
(That is, I want to be able to have multiple attribute 
declarations that affect the same element type. And no , 
I don't think that parameter entities are good enough.)

Thanks for taking the time to consider what I have to say.
Please carry on. This is the most valuable series of 
discussions that I have ever encountered in this community.

>
Murray Maloney				murray@sq.com
Technical Director              	http://www.softquad.com
SoftQuad Inc.				
P.O. Box 2025				Phone: +1 416 544-9000 x2219
20 Eglinton Avenue West, 12th Floor	Fax:   +1 416 544-0300
Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M4R 1K8