Don't let SGML scare you away [was: SELECT NEST proposal]

Dan Connolly (
Sat, 08 Mar 1997 22:43:21 -0600

Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 08 Mar 1997 22:43:21 -0600
From: Dan Connolly <>
To: MegaZone <>
Subject: Don't let SGML scare you away [was: SELECT NEST proposal]

Just a point of order:

MegaZone wrote:
>  I'm no SGML wiz, so if I messed
> up the DTD fragment please correct me.

The DTD fragment helps -- at least for folks like myself
who are used to reading them.

But I feel I've given the impression that proposals
that are not accompanied by an SGML DTD are unwelcome.

While ultimately I think every proposal must have a DTD
before it is finished, any fairly well researched and
detailed proposal is welcome in order to start discussion.
By "well researched," I mean that you've done a sort
of "review of the literature" -- i.e. read the WWW FAQ,
the archives of this list, the conference papers, 
internet drafts, etc.[1]

A BNF grammar is a fine substitute for a DTD if you're
more comfortable with that.

Another option is to just give enough examples to
make the proposal clear. I'm learning that (1) carefully
crafting examples forces you to think clearly about
your proposal, and (2) readers often pick up on concrete
examples more easily than DTDs.

> This would be used as follows:
> <SELECT NAME="testlist">
> <OPTION>first item
> <NEST name="stuff">

By the way... I have to agree that
nested SELECT controls are a missing wheel
in the design of FORMs. Has anybody implemented anything
like this proposal? I'd be surprised if nobody has.

And another thing: checking SGML DTDs with nsgmls[2]
is really very easy. I encourage folks to give it
a whirl!


Dan Connolly, W3C Architecture Domain Lead
PGP:EDF8 A8E4 F3BB 0F3C FD1B 7BE0 716C FF21