W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org > February 1997

Re: There Are No Metadocuments

From: Terry Allen <tallen@fsc.fujitsu.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 1997 14:53:22 -0800 (PST)
Message-Id: <199702102253.OAA05798@ishtar.fsc.fujitsu.com>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
[Alex sent this to me instead of the list; per his request I'm
forwarding it to the list.  This should confuse everyone about
who's saying what!]

> These "metadocuments" sound to me exactly like "the real, full
> document with all its trimmings."  I know SGMLllers are used to thinking
> about the marked-up text as distinct from the style sheet, etc.,
> but for the purposes of publishing that text, the whole ball of
> stuff can be considered to be not document+meta, but just
> document (including some meta, nothing wrong with that).

In my opinion, no.  The meta-document is information about a *set* of
data--including XML documents.  To extent, it is instructions on what makes
up units of information and what to do with those units of information.

I think it is very important to distinguish between XML as a document and
meta-documents (sets of documents) described in XML.  Further, we must 
concede that XML is only *one* form that a document can be encoded in.

In some applications (existing applications), the SGML documents are *not*
useful to an end user unless they are augmented by other SGML documents,
SGML processors, and instructions for those users.  Rather than having
a "server-does-it-all" model, I would like to be able to deliver the 
"packing-list" of information as well as instructions to the client and let
the client take care of merging and transforming the information.

> Considering documents this way might clarify discussion (and then
> again, maybe not), and it would certainly clarify explanation:
> "An XML document can be a complex structure, including a style
> sheet or even choice of style sheets, and some meta-information
> about who and how it was produced, just like a Word document
> carries its formatting and some meta along with its text, although
> you don't see everything when you look at it in Word."

Except that I'm not talking about formatting only.  I'm talking about 
transformations, workflows, user interaction, down-loadable semantics, and
on, and on.

In one view, the meta-document is just a regular XML document that "starts"
an client-application specific processing model.

In another view, the meta-document is formal part of the XML infrastructure for
delivering client-application independent semantics.

I prefer the latter.

R. Alexander Milowski     http://www.copsol.com/   alex@copsol.com
Copernican Solutions Incorporated                  (612) 379 - 3608
Received on Monday, 10 February 1997 17:53:37 UTC

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