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Re: State of XProc: language and community

From: James Fuller <james.fuller.2007@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2011 07:00:16 +0100
Message-ID: <AANLkTin225-HjzVWC6PQmsNxy20kEyMC5m5aRVUVr3eg@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Tony R." <tony@gonk.net>
Cc: XProc Dev <xproc-dev@w3.org>
many good thoughts in this post ... though I would make a few remarks

* expath is far from frozen and being actively developed/discussed
(check out my latest article on EXPATH http-request element on
developerworks) ... in fact most of the 'EX' style specs tend to after
a certain point sink into the basic toolbox versus anything too
revolutionary

* the wikis/sites you mentioned are all maintained by Norm ... perhaps
if you contact him with what you would like to contribute then he may
or may not give you access

I have been tinkering for some time on the idea of setting up an XProc
user group ... or plan some face to face meeting as these tend to work
well in unifying a community at the beginning.

Let me take a poll ... if anyone is interested in an XProc meetup
sometime soon say so ... at the moment my target dates/location for
this would be for one (or more) of the following;

Late March, before/after XML Prague in Prague, Czech Republic

Early April - London, UK

Late April - San Francisco, US

Jim Fuller


On Sat, Mar 5, 2011 at 8:38 PM, Tony R. <tony@gonk.net> wrote:
> I compiled a few thoughts I have had over and over again recently.  I’m
> sharing them with the list as feedback for the entire XProc ecosystem.
> Do with the feedback what you will.  Flame me.  Delete it.  Respond.  Pass
> it onto others.  If nobody ever reads this message, at least I wrote it down
> so that I can get it out of my head.  ☺
> In any case, I welcome feedback and discussion on any of this.  Don't be
> shy!  ;-D
>
> XProc LANGUAGE
>
> Needs better separation.
>
> There's a striking lack of separation between the plethora of things
> that (may or may not) appear at the beginning of a step—such as ports,
> options, and so on—and sub-pipelines and contained steps.
>
> Maybe I'm just used to the head/body pattern from HTML.  But I can't help
> but imagine that something similar might be beneficial for XProc.
>
> Needlessly redundant steps.
>
> Many separate p:validate-with-* steps exist when a single
> p:validate step with something like @with="relax-ng"  would suffice.
> This needlessly adds to language bloat IMO.
>
> Lack of syntactic sugar.
>
> There are so many times when the most common use case has to be written and
> re-written over and over again.  This drives me absolutely crazy and
> significantly increases the size of my code. The XProc wiki
> (http://wiki.XProc.org/XProcVNext) outlines this—and a number of other
> syntactic sugar enhancements—that would make XProc so much more pleasant.
>
> Data types.
>
> XProc’s lack of built-in data types can be unbelievably frustrating.  And
> XML is designed for modular reuse—including plenty of data types that have
> been battle-tested for years.  If XProc supported even just a tiny subset of
> these, it would make life so much easier.
>
> At the very least, I think XProc should know the difference between a
> document, a URI, and a string.
>
> While we're at it, it would be extra awesome if data types were usable
> directly inside attributes instead of  having to nest like <p:with-option …
> />. This could easily be accomplished without ambiguity for processors by
> making use of XPath's built in functions, e.g. string(‘aaa’),
> base-uri(‘http://weee/subdir/‘), and so on.  (Constructor Functions for XML
> Schema Built-In Types seems worth a quick review here.)
>
> XProc COMMUNITY
>
> Documentation.
>
> I love Calabash!, …but the lack of documentation is a real downer.  It even
> resulted in quite a shock for me when I discovered there was a mechanism for
> providing Calabash with custom settings.  I’d been using Calabash for months
> at the time, and had no idea this was even possible.
> It would also be great if there was something with the same role as Javadoc
> for XProc.  (I.E., Parse XProc files and output human-friendly documentation
> in XHTML [or whatever]).
> Documentation—that is, good documentation—unites people and fosters
> collaboration.  We need more of it.
>
> Un-unified community efforts.
>
> One of my favorite things about XML community is how active it is.  Members
> are very supportive each other.  And there seems to be a delightful absence
> of the “elitist jerk programmer” stereotype mindset.  If I didn’t know any
> better, I might think most of us really love this stuff, and enjoy that
> others love it, too!  ;-)
> However, although the discussion lists are quite healthy, solutions are
> scattered. People come up with great solutions…and they might tell the
> mailing list about them.  They might even post them on the web.  But there
> is no central place to share solutions.
> Common recurring problems may have a dozen independently-created solutions
> to them, all created by different people.  At the same time, other
> programmers may not be as skilled, and become frustrated in searching for a
> solution and give up.
> For example:
>
> Norm’s online XProc Book has a fully-functional
> ex:recursive-directory-list step.  It’s written in XProc itself, so it’s
> even processor-independent.  Cool!
>
> …So, why isn’t this brilliance on EXProc.org?
>
> The closest thing to a central place for this stuff is the XProc wiki…but
> activity remains almost nonexistent here.
> The EXPath Project also aims to be a central space for collaboration.  It
> embodies my vision of what the XML community needs most.  …But although it’s
> slightly more populated with content than the XProc wiki, it appears to have
> been on hiatus for at least a couple of years.  (I’m trying to begin
> contributing to this project in the hopes of getting some momentum going
> again.  Fingers crossed!)
> Seriously, everybody: we have an amazing, brilliant, inventive, helpful, and
> (on mailing lists at least) active community.  We just need to focus all
> that talent on pooling our resources!
> It would be so very, very glorious.
>
> Norm.
>
> I love you Norm!  (strictly professionally of course! ☺)  I think that if
> anyone else attempted to do as much as you, their head would probably
> explode.
>
> However, there are have been many occasions—far too numerous to recall—where
> I wanted to contribute something to the websites for XProc, Calabash, and
> EXProc…but I wasn't able to.
>
> Aside to Norm:
>
> I did try writing you personally, writing the mailing list, and even leaving
> a note for you on the XProc wiki hoping you might notice.  Alas, no such
> luck.  I figured it would take more than that for little ol’ me to register
> on your very busy radar, but I had to try.
>
> No hard feelings!  Just a disclaimer. ☺
>
> …Meanwhile, the wiki goes pretty much untouched.  So there’s a wiki with
> maybe one page of useful info that is dead in terms of activity, and there’s
> plenty of useful pages on the xproc.org / xmlcalabash.org /
> exproc.org sites, but they are pretty much dead in terms of activity (with
> the exception of Calabash releases).
>
> I really wish there was a way this stuff into the hands of our awesome
> community…but right now there is no such space.  ☹
>
> —Tony
Received on Sunday, 6 March 2011 06:00:48 GMT

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