ISO standards -Reply

Jim Taylor (
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 17:33:40 -0800

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 1996 17:33:40 -0800
From: Jim Taylor <>
Subject: ISO standards -Reply

>>> "David Perrell" <> 07/23/96 03:31pm >>>
>I've been presented with the following logic:
>    PostScript is a publishing standard.
>    SGML is a document markup standard.
>    HTML is a document markup language.
>    Therefore, PostScript is out of the picture.
>This leaves me wondering: (1) For what purpose are documents being
>marked up if not for some form of publishing? (2) Is there no
>relationship between existing publishing standards and the markup of
>documents for publishing?

The logic is that if you're going to pick a standard, pick the one that's
most appropriate. If SGML and PostScript disagree on character names,
then HTML should follow SGML, not PostScript. HTML is much more than
a simple "publishing" standard, in the sense of PostScript being a
"publishing" standard -- i.e., a way to visually reproduce text and
graphics. HTML includes tags for semantic and structural markup so that
a document can be presented in a fashion appropriate to the system. I.e.,
an HTML "reader" for blind people could vocally add
<STRONG>emphasis</STRONG>, specify <LI>items from a list, etc. This
isn't reasonable with something like PostScript. Nevertheless, HTML is
called a "Web publishing" language. In the end it all comes down to your
definition of publishing.

The relationship between standards falls apart when people creating
new standards don't bother checking for existing standards to base
them on. This is why we gave you such a hard time when you
suggested non-standard entity names.

>Would someone please explain why English quotation marks qualify as
>"numeric and special graphic" and German quotation marks qualify as
>"publishing" entities?
>I've been told that those who worked on SGML may have "considered
>ramifications that you and I are completely unaware of." No doubt. And
>vice versa, apparently. 

I've wondered the same thing myself. I'd like to assume there was some
reason other than incompetence or committee-driven bureaucracy. It's
possible that they took the entity sets from existing standards that came
from different sources with different needs, but I'm only guessing.

Jim "The Frog" Taylor, Director of Information Technology
Videodiscovery, Inc. - Multimedia Education for Science and Math
Seattle, WA, 206-285-5400 <>