Re: parameters and pipelines (revised)

/ Jeni Tennison <> was heard to say:
| Hi,
| That looks pretty good to me. Just a few of comments:
| First, I don't think we should be making any distinction between how
| pipelines are invoked "from outside" or "by name". In both cases,
| the pipeline needs to be provided with bindings for its inputs
| (parameter and non-parameter) and bindings for its options. In the
| case of invocation "from outside", it has to be
| implementation-defined exactly how that's done. It's useful to
| consider how implementations *might* do it, but we're not going to
| put that in the spec. (I'd hope implementations would try to do it
| in a similar way to how steps are invoked by XProc itself, rather
| than having different rules about what gets done with anonymous
| parameter ports, but we can't legislate that either way.)

Yes, I agree. We can't really tell implementors how to deal with the
command line or API they provide.

| Second, I think that giving <p:parameter> an optional port attribute
| would help. Specifically, it would mean that <p:parameter> could be
| used even if a pipeline accepted more than one parameter port. For
| example:
|   <p:pipeline type="my:pipe">
|     <p:input port="params1" kind="parameter" />
|     <p:input port="params2" kind="parameter" />
|     ...
|   </p:pipeline>
|   <my:pipe>
|     <p:parameter port="params1" name="x" value="$x" />
|     <p:parameter port="params2" name="y" value="$y" />
|   </my:pipe>
| would work. This would make life a lot easier for people who do need
| to use more than one parameter port, without making it any harder
| for people who don't: the port attribute can default to the name of
| the (only) parameter port (which might be anonymous) when there's
| only one.

I considered this briefly, but rejected it as creeping featurism. But
maybe it's the right thing.

| Third, I wonder if we can place some sensible restrictions on when
| an anonymous parameter port is implicitly declared, along the same
| lines as for inputs and outputs. So a pipeline only has an implicit
| declaration for an anonymous parameter port added if (a) there are
| no other parameter port declarations and (b) one of its contained
| steps has a parameter port. This would have the advantage of better
| error reporting when a pipeline user mistakenly passes in parameters
| rather than options.

I suppose we could. Thoughts?

|> Open questions:
|>  A) Should <p:input kind='parameter' .../> as a child of p:pipeline be
|>     purely a declaration, i.e. be necessarily empty, or should we
|>     allow it to have content, in which case how do we treat that
|>     content -- merge it with external input, ignore it if there's any
|>     external input, . . .?
| I can see arguments all ways:
| i) Pro empty: As the pipeline author, you're not supposed to know
| the names of parameters (this being what distinguishes them from
| options), so you (should) never be able to provide a sensible set of
| defaults. Therefore it should always be empty.
| ii) Pro mass override: Parameter inputs should work in just the same
| way as ordinary inputs. Users should be able to provide a default
| that is entirely overridden if a binding is specified on invocation.
| iii) Pro individual override: The most common situation is where you
| have a bunch of default values for parameters which should be
| overridden individually. It's excessively hard for invocations to
| specify all parameter values: they should be able to just supply
| values for parameters that don't take the default value.
| I think I just about favour (i), with (iii) a close second, and I'm
| not so keen on (ii) but could live with it.

I think I favor (i) for V1. I could live with (ii). I'd resist (iii).
If the functionality of (iii) is important enough, I think I'd prefer
to allow p:parameter directly inside the p:pipeline instead as a
mechanism for achieving it.

In fact, it may be a bug that p:parameter is currently not allowed
since parameter inputs are. I don't see much value in allowing one but
not the other.

|> Finally question (3) above becomes, in the terms of the proposal in
|> (1) and (2) above, "Under what circumstances should the runtime
|> deliver the anonymous parameter set when a step implementation asks
|> for its parameters?"
|>     Possible answers:
|>       a) Always;
|>       b) Only if a parameter port has been explicitly bound to it (as
|>          in the final example under (1) above) (and that port is asked
|>          for);
|>       c) If a parameter port has been explicitly bound to it (and is
|>          asked for), or if some parameter ports have not been bound at
|>          all (and all parameters are asked for? and any unbound
|>          parameter port is asked for? and there is only one parameter
|>          port declared and unbound?).
| If I can turn the language round, I think the question is "when
| should the anonymous parameter set passed to a pipeline get passed
| on to a contained step in that pipeline?" Certainly it should when
| it is explicitly bound to a parameter port with an empty <p:input>.
| Can we use the notion of a primary parameter port, just as we have a
| primary standard port? If there's only one parameter port, that's
| the primary one; otherwise one of the parameter ports can be marked
| with primary="yes". Then we can say that the anonymous parameter set
| gets passed in to the primary parameter port. That would, at least,
| mirror the way normal inputs work.

Sigh. Yet more concepts, but yes, that does sound like the right

                                        Be seeing you,

Norman Walsh <> | Faith makes many of the mountains which            | it has to remove.--W. R. Inge

Received on Tuesday, 10 July 2007 13:11:51 UTC