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Re: SDATA, again

From: David G. Durand <dgd@cs.bu.edu>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996 11:03:27 -0800
Message-Id: <v02130500aed2ed6825c4@[]>
To: Michael Sperberg-McQueen <U35395@UICVM.UIC.EDU>, W3C SGML Working Group <w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org>
At 8:47 AM 12/10/96, Michael Sperberg-McQueen wrote:
>On Mon, 9 Dec 1996 10:36:14 -0500 David G. Durand said:
>The second half of October was, if I remember correctly, given
>over largely though not exclusively to the discussion of this
>question.  There seems little point in my contributing to this
>discussion now, since what I contributed then (I thought they were
>extended discussions, and they certainly described the rationale for
>the ERB decision) seems not only not to have persuaded David, but to
>have been invisible to him.

I was referring to official disclosure of the ERB discussion: We do not see
ERB discussions except as they are revealed to us: and the original ERB
decision was taken before the long WG debate you refer to. There may have
been a brief post about a revisiting of the issue in the ERB: and it may
have been revisited, but this was not clearly apparent to me. I do
occasionally delete messages, so I may have lost one, though I generally
keep all the ERB decision notes.

   Certainly the discuussion was not invisible to me, just whether there
was a revisiting of the issue in the ERB, and the final rationale for the
ERB decision after that process. If I have missed something, I apologize,
and I tried in my initial note to leave that possiblity open -- with 1623
messages in my current file, missing, misrembering, or failing to find one
in a search is a constant possibility.

>So I'll just ask David to follow the obvious guideline:  if you
>failed to persuade everyone that SDATA is worth having in the spec
>the first time around, and now want to raise the question again, can
>you please provide some new arguments?  The old arguments have been
>read, and understood, and discussed.  David thinks, I suspect, that
>I didn't understand his arguments, but understanding is not the same
>as agreement.  His arguments didn't persuade me then, and I for one
>have enough other things on my plate not to want to discuss an issue
>for the third time, when nothing new has been added to the

I'm not worried about Michael per-se: some people prefer uninterpreted
numbers to uninterpreted namespaces. Tim's posting did clearly lay out the
rationale for the ERB decision (as the rationale for the ERB decision):
whether this was the original discussion or a revisiting, post-WG brouhaha,
I do not know. If it was post-brouhaha then I submit my rebuttal, but I
will sit down and shut up. If that was the original decision, and it was
not revisited, I ask that it be re-examined. I'm sorry for not being
clearer about what I was asking in my first post.

>In all the cases I know of where SDATA entities now work without
>user intervention, the SDATA entities are known characters which
>occur in Unicode.  In cases where non-Unicode characters are
>successfully handled, all the cases I know of involve user
>intervention in the application's character tables.  Removing SDATA
>entities does not change this state of affairs one whit:  known
>characters will work, and others will require user intervention.

Yes, but unknown characters labelled with strings may be user-intervenable,
even without a private arrangement between author and reader: a very common
case on the Web. Private use characters can _never_ work without an
explicit agreement between author and reader. I think this is not a new
argument, but it still seems knock-down/drag-out to me. One works better,
and the syntactic cost is almost, but not quite, nil.

>The problem of characters not known to an application is a real and
>serious one.  I'd like to see some discussion of how to solve it,
>rather than further special pleading for SDATA, which seems to me to
>be a band-aid for the problem, not a solution to it.  We need a real
>solution, not a band-aid, and I am not convinced that SDATA is
>even a part of a real solution.

Special pleading is a kind of loaded term. I'm arguing that we lay a
foundation for the general solution to be built, in the way that is most
compatible with SGML practice (and to some extent HTML practice, in that
people expect that "funny characters" are represetned by strings starting
with an ampersand). Certainly some method of associating string data with
undefined characters must be part of any real solution: entities are the
logical kind of SGML construct to associate it with. We could decide that
much without having to develop the technology to run glyph registries right

OK. I'm sitting down now.

  -- David

David Durand              dgd@cs.bu.edu  \  david@dynamicDiagrams.com
Boston University Computer Science        \  Sr. Analyst
http://www.cs.bu.edu/students/grads/dgd/   \  Dynamic Diagrams
--------------------------------------------\  http://dynamicDiagrams.com/
MAPA: mapping for the WWW                    \__________________________
Received on Tuesday, 10 December 1996 11:03:33 UTC

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