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Re: A28: syntax of markup declarations?

From: Charles F. Goldfarb <Charles@SGMLsource.com>
Date: Mon, 07 Oct 1996 18:20:55 GMT
To: Michael Sperberg-McQueen <U35395@UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU>
Cc: W3C SGML Working Group <w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <325e4000.94038437@mail.alink.net>
On Thu, 03 Oct 96 18:37:34 CDT, Michael Sperberg-McQueen
<U35395@UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU> wrote:

>A.28 Should XML use the markup-declaration syntax described by ISO 8879
>clauses 10-11, or should XML define a specialized document type and let
>its markup declarations use the document-instance syntax, as proposed
>by MGML?

XML should use a proper subset of the ISO 8879 declaration syntax, for several

1. The necessary subset is small, clean, and easily explained. I have attached
the grammar to this note. It has fewer than 30 productions. (SGML has almost

2. 20,000 or so people already know the DTD language. That is 20,000 more than
know MGML.

3. It is the semantics of markup declarations that presents learning
difficulties, not the syntax. The semantics will be the same in any case.

4. The same is true for implementation. While a second syntax is a burden, it is
a relatively small and easily automated one.

5. SGML instance markup is a great language for representing structured
information. It is a poor language for defining it. Tim's paper.dsd is three
times the size (in lines) of the attached paper.dtd.

6. All SGML tools can handle markup declarations. 

7. There are no SGML interoperability issues because it *is* SGML.

8. There is no problem putting markup declarations in "XML masquerading as
HTML". Declarations just look like long unknown tags. (HTML users may even find
them familiar for that reason.)

9. XML needs to be a conforming subset of SGML; otherwise it will be seen as a
competitor to SGML whatever our good intentions to the contrary. That perceived
competition will confuse users at best; at worst, it will ripen into real
competition, with users and vendors choosing sides.

10. Our objective for XML is to increase the SGML market by making it easier to
understand and implement. We only get this result if XML *is* SGML; otherwise,
SGML doesn't change at all. If XML is a conforming profile of SGML, it can be
the core of SGML97 -- the basic conformance level. The rest of SGML would be
defined as a delta on the core SGML; core XML/SGML users would never have to
read it.
Charles F. Goldfarb * Information Management Consulting * +1(408)867-5553
           13075 Paramount Drive * Saratoga CA 95070 * USA
  International Standards Editor * ISO 8879 SGML * ISO/IEC 10744 HyTime
 Prentice-Hall Series Editor * CFG Series on Open Information Management

Received on Monday, 7 October 1996 14:21:22 UTC

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