W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-logic@w3.org > August 2001

Re: XML Serialization

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 11:59:56 -0700
Message-Id: <v04210103b7b58c09cbdc@[]>
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Cc: www-rdf-logic@w3.org
>On Thu, 30 Aug 2001, pat hayes wrote:
> > >Now, why did the RDF WG chose XML instead of s-expressions or
> > >something else elegant?  I wasn't there, but I love rumor mongering
> > >and wild speculation.  Maybe they figured in the mood of the day, it
> > >would give RDF a leg up.  And it probably did, with the librarians.
> > >Perhaps it wasn more of a leg iron to the computer scientists, though.
> >
> > Quite, and elegantly put.
>Some of the work that fed into the RDF design didn't use XML.
>eg: http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-pics-ng-metadata
>(RDF's origins as a pornography description framework aka PICS-NG)
>or Guha's MCF stuff, http://www.guha.com/mcf/wp.html which itself went
>through the XMLization process, http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-MCF-XML/
>Probably the main reason for XMLizing all this is so that RDF could be
>mixed freely with other content, eg. embedded in SVG graphics, XHTML etc.
>http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG-access/ and so it could embed fragments of other
>markup languages (eg. MathML).

Just as a technical point, I fail to follow the reasoning here. Is 
there an assumption that anything other than XML is inherently 
incapable of being mixed freely with, er, other content? MathML can 
be represented in almost any language capable of rendering labelled 
directed graph structures, surely?

>You might ask why those folks use pointy brackets instead of curvy ones,
>but that's not an argument worth having in 2001...

The issue isn't the shape of the brackets (though it is kind of 
brain-damaged to choose the 'less-than' symbol as a bracket; it 
strongly suggests that none of the XML designers were mathematicians) 
so much as the gratuitous and wasteful use of four brackets and two 
labels and a slash, where two brackets and one label would do fine 
(not to mention that often, probably most of the time, you don't even 
need the label anyway.) And the fact that this point is so blindingly 
obvious to anyone with a modicum - nay, an infinitesimal grain - of 
experience with formal notations does give the XML hoopla a slightly 
sour note to many of us, I suspect.

Pat Hayes

(650)859 6569 w
(650)494 3973 h (until September)
Received on Friday, 31 August 2001 14:58:48 UTC

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