Re: Make HTML a real SGML application

Paul Treadaway (
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 19:29:21 +0000

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 19:29:21 +0000
From: (Paul Treadaway)
Subject: Re: Make HTML a real SGML application 

At 02:41 PM 30/7/96 -0400, Daniel W. Connolly wrote:
>In message <199607301629.JAA05748@athena>, Mary Holstege writes:
>>  Why is long distance naming in "<A NAME=foo>...<A
>>HREF="#foo">" easy enough for the masses to master but that in 
>>"<!ENTITY foo...>...&foo;" too hard?
>Hang on: the choice is between:
>	<a href="">
>	<!entity foo system "" NDATA>
>	...
>	<a href=foo>
>In this case, the object in question has a perfectly good name:
> The name foo serves no purpose but to introduce errors
>etc. (If there were several references to in the document, the
>foo might serve as a shorthand, and that might be valuable. But it's
>not valuable enough to complicate the simple case.)

Tell me, do you never use #define in C programs so that you can change the
value of something once rather than have to find every instance? This is the
point of entity references.

>I don't like <!ENTITY...> as a mechanism for doing compound documents.
>I like typed links much better. It's like the difference between
>python/perl/Java style import vs. C/C++ #include: one's a text pasting
>excercise, and the other is a structural construct.

The point is that SGML provides many different means for all kinds of
document structures, but HTML as it is uses only a tiny fraction of this power.

>Note that SGML marked sections can express #if/#endif nicely,
>but #elsif is very awkward.

No more difficult than doing if (x) and if (!x) instead of if ... else, surely?

Paul Treadaway