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Re: The Rule of Least Power

From: Noah Mendelsohn <nrm@arcanedomain.com>
Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2012 08:55:13 -0400
Message-ID: <4FF19A31.5050204@arcanedomain.com>
To: Pete Cordell <petexmldev@codalogic.com>
CC: Kevin Braun <kbraun@obj-sys.com>, xmlschema-dev@w3.org

On 7/2/2012 4:29 AM, Pete Cordell wrote:
> I'm thinking that static data can be represented using XML, or (arguably)
> less powerful JSON, or even less powerful .ini file format or even CSV.
> But to me it seems a world using all four of those representations is
> actually more complicated than just using XML.

I think that any of those are in the spirit of the "Finding", but if you 
read the introductory text, the focus is mainly on computational power. It 
establishes a ladder that has declarative languages at one end (least 
powerful and from which it's easiest to extract information), functional 
languages somewhere in the middle (e.g. XSLT, XQuery), and imperative 
Turing-complete languages as the most "powerful", but tending to hide 
information in ways that make it difficult to extract.

My point is that the finding doesn't try to suggest that, withing the 
declarative languages, you should choose the least expressive or capable. 
Yes, it's easier to write a JSON or CSV parser than to write one for XML, 
and that may indeed be a good reason for choosing the simpler languages, 
but the finding is pretty nearly neutral on that. All of those languages 
are declarative, so from the point of view of computability theory, it's 
equally possible to extract the data you might encode in any of them. When 
you put information on the Web in XML, you're not making it impossible to 
extract, as you might be with Java/Javascript/Flash; you are making it just 
a bit harder if you don't have the right parser lying around.

Anyway, I still have the impression that several participants in this 
discussion haven't read the finding as a whole. It's maybe 2 pages long, 
and you can read it in about 5 mins. I suspect that doing so will alleviate 
at least many of the concerns about it.

Thank you.

Received on Monday, 2 July 2012 12:55:39 UTC

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