Can we be more concrete?
Subject: Can we be more concrete?
From: Tim Bray <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 29 Dec 1996 15:47:51 -0800
From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Dec 29 19: 16:59 1996
X-Mailer: Windows Eudora Pro Version 3.0 Demo (32)
All this discussion has been quite educational, but the proportion of it
that I can relate to the problems that I as co-editor will soon be facing
is kind of low.
I think it's time for a strawman. If nobody else advances one I will,
but others may find this disturbing coming from one who frankly admits
failure to understand the relevancy of any number of the issues in
To make it concrete (and I apologize to those who are reading
this particular example for the second time, I sent it to someone, but
not *I think* the SGML-WG): At SGML'96 this outfit had a multimedia
authoring system called "Nereus". They had some circuit board photos
and you could click on the parts and a little menu would pop up saying
and they all did the obvious things.
This was nothing more than a multi-ended link, accessible from some,
not all, of its ends, each link having a defined role and label,
and a defined behavior.
I can imagine a syntax to describe this level of functionality, with
a handy basket of boiler-plate roles and behaviors, and simple rules
for rolling your own. I can imagine documenting this with a little
DTD with elements & attributes beginning "-XML-". I can imagine
defining some architectural meta-DTD stuff to allow you to do this in
any old SGML document. I can imagine not writing any addressing
mechanisms in beyond URL and ID attribute. I think this could all be
written down in a dozen pages. I think it could be implemented by the
XML's nominal CS grad in XML's nominal week.
I think this could be awfully useful, and it would be substantially
better than what our web brethren live with today. But it wouldn't say
anything about object orientation or anchor awareness or pseudo-nodes or
grove plans or stylesheets.
To conclude, and I apologize for bluntness: I *suspect* that
some of this discussion consists of handwaving, and I *know* that
some of it is vitally important, and I can't tell the difference, and
I think we need to enrich our diet with healthy servings of examples
and draft spec language.
Happy New Year, Tim