Re: Make DTDs optional?

On Mon, 30 Sep 1996 13:49:24 -0500, masonjd@ornl.gov (James David Mason) wrote:
>Charles and I wasted plenty of time dealing with ODA, and I'd hate to
>replicate that experience. But we did learn some things from it, like what
>led to architectural forms. It would be a great mistake if, while trying to
>simplify building applications on something that was related to SGML, we
>wound up getting so convoluted as ODA became (so convoluted it was
>unimplementable). However, their original idea was implicit logical
>structures, things that could be drived from tracing levels of nesting. I
>think that's what I'm hearing here.

As Jim says, ODA failed when it tried to become a native archiving/manipulation
format for editors. That screwed up everything, including its usefulness for
interchange.  Its original interchange representation captured the structure
without requiring a generic part (like our DTD). It was therefore very appealing
because of its combination of structural richness and parsing simplicity.

>I'm one of the folks who believes in mandatory DTDs, but that's because most
>of the applications I deal with fall into what Rick calls a
>"archiving/modelling/manipulation/open-system format". Maybe there is a
>valid case for implicit structure in a "temporary/application/closed-system
>format". If we go that route, we really do need to keep things simple and
>avoid overspecifying.

And we have to accept the idea that it can only be read-only. Or at least that
you could only modify the data, not the structure. (Now that Jim has dug up
those painful memories, I seem to recall that ODA also made the distinction
between editing the structure and editing the data content.)
Charles F. Goldfarb * Information Management Consulting * +1(408)867-5553
           13075 Paramount Drive * Saratoga CA 95070 * USA
  International Standards Editor * ISO 8879 SGML * ISO/IEC 10744 HyTime
 Prentice-Hall Series Editor * CFG Series on Open Information Management

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