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Re: Proposed restatement of syntax-based interoperability princip le ( was RE: Action item on syntax-based interoperability)

From: Bill de hÓra <dehora@eircom.net>
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 21:07:41 +0000
Message-ID: <3F9D891D.3020702@eircom.net>
Cc: www-tag@w3.org

Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:

> Start with VRML97 and X3D.  As long as the abstract model is 
> solid and the encodings support that, you can have multiple 
> syntaxes and interoperate successfully.  

I'm well aware of this argument. I've seen it espoused by bodies 
such as FIPA in their abstract architecture or by the OMG in UML or 
the W3C in the DOM IDL. I've seen analogous arguments about 
abstracting applications away from transports.

> so how fundamental is the syntax compared to the functional 
> model?  Not much.

Yet, as fond as I am of stuff like the FIPA AA, and other models 
such as RDF, what I haven't seen the widepsread adoption and 
proliferation of such things. Even SOAP was syntactic before it 
jumped to the Infoset.


> Because I never have been able to get this coop to do more than cluck 
> when asked for a definition of 'interoperation', I have to agree with 
> the last statement.  It isn't sufficient.  But I have to add, nor 
> is it fundamental.  Very useful, cheap, convenient, yes, but nothing 
> about the web except scaling costs make it necessary, and necessity is 
> my definition of fundamental.

There aren't many neccessary truths to be had. But I'd need a 
compelling explanation as to why something that is "true in 
practice" for the web cannot be captured as architectural truth of 
the web. Certainly I've no proof to put forward that a syntax driven 
approach is an axiomatic prerequisite for interoperation. All I can 
say is that acting as though syntax is an axiomatic prerequisite 
gets me to a place where interoperation happens between systems at 
reasonable cost. In other words, it's an empirical observation, not 
a theory.

If we said "syntax is primary" instead of "syntax is fundamental", 
would that work?

Bill de hÓra
Received on Monday, 27 October 2003 16:07:51 GMT

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