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Re: xsl-fo first anniversary

From: W. Eliot Kimber <eliot@isogen.com>
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 08:46:07 -0500
Message-ID: <3DB1621F.9080708@isogen.com>
To: www-xsl-fo@w3.org

Dave Pawson wrote:
> At 21:57 18/10/2002, W. Eliot Kimber wrote:

>>1960's: gencode projects start as a way to standardize typesetting codes. Basic ideas of generalized markup for documents start to form
>> - Goldfarb, Moscher(? sorry, don't have SGML Handbook to hand), and Laurie develop GML at IBM in order to satisfy requirements of legal document search and retrieval. GML implemented on top of IBM's Document Composition Facility (DCF).

> Edward Mosher and Raymond Lorie, yep found them.

Thanks--I should have been able to remember their names better, but I am 
hideously bad with names.

>> - Various large publishers, such as Boeing (where Sharon worked) and the U.S. government start using GML to solve large-scale publishing problems. Quickly realize the limitation of having markup language bound too tightly to underlying typesetting language.
> So this  was the time the split began between style and content?


>> - TeX is developed. LaTex developed--similar to GML in that it is a more semantic macro language on top of a low-level formatting language (not sure of the exact timing here).
> Any direct relationship between gml and tex or were they parallel 
> developments?

I don't think there was much cross-pollination here, but I don't really 
know. They were completely parallel as far as I know. I know that by the 
time we were doing the SGML thing at IBM we were looking at TeX as a way 
to implement composition, but that was late '80s, early '90s.

>> - HyTime standard work started. Charles Goldfarb editor and driving force
>> - FOSI spec developed to meet U.S. DoD requirements (not sure of exact timing here). Implemented by Datalogics and Arbortext.
> Was Paul with Arbortext then?

Yes. Paul was one of the founders of Arbortext.

>>Early 1990's:
>> - IBM starts developing SGML replacement for it's GML application BookMaster (used for 90% of IBM's publications).
> Oh! News to me.

The IBM Information Development document type survived my departure, 
albeit in much revised form (can you say "naive over-engineering by an 
over-enthusiastic kid"?) and is still being used today as far as I know. 
Ask Ken Holman about the first time he and I met....

>> - HyTime standard published.

> Sounds like a lonely interjection Eliot. 
>   what was the motivation for this work please?

There is no accurate short answer to this question, but to oversimplify, 
the goal was to enable the SGML representation of hypermedia 
information, from abstract source to recordings of performance 
instances. My personal motivation was focused primarily on solving 
problems of large-scale hypertext as required by the types of complex 
systems of technical documents I'd been working with at IBM. Steve 
Newcomb's motivation was focused primarily on solving problems of 
representing music and performance in general (e.g., opera). Charles 
wanted all of these things. The HyTime standard itself was an outgrowth 
of the Standard Music Description Language (SMDL), an attempt to define 
a generic markup language for music. The way Steve N. tells the story, 
the U.S. Dept. of Defense came to a meeting of the standard committee 
and said essentially "if you can represent operas you can represent 
battles and we need a way to represent battles but we can't go the 
Pentagon and suggest they apply a music standard, so if you could break 
out the generic bits and make that a separate standard, that would be 
great." And so they did. And SMDL continues to languish to this day as 
other activities have pushed it to the background for those involved 
(sadly, there does not appear to be any money for the generic 
representation of music, but there is lots of money for topic maps, FO, 
and workaday applications of XML--so it goes).

>>- HyTime and DSSSL camps realize they must come to agreement on the fundamental data model for SGML documents. Groves invented to solve this problem.
> And nobody got groves either? 

Correct. Nobody got groves. But maybe that is changing, if the last 
Extreme conference is any indication. Hope springs eternal.

>>- DSSSL standard published. James Clark releases Jade DSSSL implementation.
>>- John Bosak starts "SGML on the Web" activity with the express goal of enabling high-quality rendering of SGML documents in Web browsers.

Just realized I mispelled Jon's name. Sorry about that.

> That's interesting. I started to monitor xml-dev in early 97, and hadn't
> realised that was a goal, certainly not the 'high quality print' aspect.

It was. Jon was very clear about that to us (like my self, Jon is 
fundametally a technical writer, a book person). But it also became 
immediately clear that that was not where XML was going and so he didn't 
push the issue. But fortunately, those who care about high-quality 
rendition from XML didn't give up the struggle. It's kind of cool how 
all the non-print uses of XML have provided both the infrastructure and 
the time for the print uses of XML to both mature and be affordable. We 
certainly never would have predicted that at the time.

> Thanks Eliot. Much appreciated.

My pleasure. I hope it's not too inaccurate.


W. Eliot Kimber, eliot@isogen.com
Consultant, ISOGEN International

1016 La Posada Dr., Suite 240
Austin, TX  78752 Phone: 512.656.4139
Received on Saturday, 19 October 2002 09:45:18 UTC

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