Re: Is XML-Link Rocket Science?

Peter Murray-Rust <Peter@ursus.demon.co.uk> writes:
>Let me suggest a spectrum of people who may potentially develop XML
>applications and who may create documents
>(** without using turnkey systems **).  At one end are the rocket
>scientists (RS) - and I fully support the need for XML to be able to support
>RS.  At the other end are webhackers like myself (WH).

I certainly qualify as a WH. If this WG includes about one hundred members,
how many are RS? As _many_ as five or ten? How many are capable of writing

>My concern at present is that XML-link will *only* be usable by RS.  I
>believe that this isn't the intention, but I'm worried that it might turn
>out that way without the WG realising.  My ideal would be to have a
>solution that had a spectrum of potential applications ranging from WH to
>RS, and this could be an evolutionary path for WHs, rather
>than all-or-nothing
>XML spans the spectrum between WH and RS perfectly.  A WH can hack a
>_useful_ WF document from a very simple set of rules.  Many people can
>write a WF-parser from scratch (I've done this myself in an amateurish way).
>However, it is RS to write a validating parser for XML (as evidenced by
>the fact that there aren't any written yet :-).  A validating parser is
>required before an XML editor can be constructed (though document creation
>tools do not necessarily require RS).  Areas such as entity management and
>catalogs can be omitted by the WH at the start of their exploration of XML.

But will that be a generalized, functional system? Entity management and
catalogs are (at least in my opinion) pretty foundational equipment, but of
course it's precisely this sort of demand that increases the complexity of
the final machine.

Will a full implementation of XML plus all of its final component
technologies (link, dsssl-o stylesheets, catalog support, etc.) require the
likes of James Clark to make a complete system? It's fine that the W3C SGML
Working Group Reference Implementation do the job, but if it's become
another SP then we have another SP: an absolutely phenomenal tool, but an
enormous hurdle for developers to create from scratch. If validation of XML
is as complicated as SGML, then what is the point of differentiating it
from SGML? IOW, if you need SP (or its XML complex equivalent) to validate
XML, then you might as well be using SGML tools.

>I appreciate that this is a very challenging task, but I think it will have
>to be undertaken before XML-Link takes off

Agreed. Rocket scientists build rockets. We have rocket scientists in this
group. While I'm certain that we could build a terrific rocket here, it's
not in our best interest to make it unintelligible to our target market,
particularly our target market of developers.


    Murray Altheim, Program Manager
    Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
    email: <mailto:murray@spyglass.com>
    http:  <http://www.cm.spyglass.com/murray/murray.html>
           "Give a monkey the tools and he'll eventually build a typewriter."