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Re: Text for Metaformats W3C page

From: Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2012 02:31:13 +0200
To: Jeni Tennison <jeni.tennison@gmail.com>
Cc: "www-tag@w3.org List" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8qlft7lur4bug1mrqn7alvjtueipi5o4mo@hive.bjoern.hoehrmann.de>
* Jeni Tennison wrote:
>Metaformats are generic formats that people can adopt when creating
>their own application-specific languages without having to reinvent
>syntax. The terms that people use to specialise a metaformat are often
>called vocabularies.

That seems misleading to me. In principle you can establish conventions
for using a particular format for all formats, so in that sense all for-
mats are "metaformats". But people do not typically call documents that
follow such a convention as instances of some "vocabulary"; you'd find
that mostly for formats specifically designed for others to create such
conventions.

>Metaformats usually have a schema language that can be used to define
>or describe a vocabulary that uses that metaformat, and query or
>transformation languages that can be used to access information within
>documents that use that metaformat.

I do not think this is common at all. "Delimiter-separated-values" for
instance would certainly seem to be a "metaformat", but I am not aware
of any widely used schema language for them, other than the convention
to sometimes use the first line for column titles. Leading to much pain
since you can't import "english" DSV data into "german" Excel without
changing system settings because Excel does not know the "english" data
uses commas to separate fractional digits from other digits. If there
was some established schema language, I would expect such problems to
not exist, for the most of it. People would rather seem to be using a
lowest common denominator format like some DSV format precisely because
there is nothing better that works well across applications.

I could make a schema language easily, satisfying "there exists", but
that would not be very meaningful. There sort-of are schema languages
for JSON, but they aren't used much currently. I think it would be fair
to say the same about XML. And "HTML Microformats", or Mediawiki "Wiki-
text template usage" and so on. It's not clear to me what you are actu-
ally trying to define.

>What is XML?

>What is RDF?

>What is JSON?

(It does not seem a good use of TAG resouces to answer such questions.)
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Received on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 00:31:36 GMT

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