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

Re: 2.1 a-d: Link Recognition by Reserved Attribute?

From: len bullard <cbullard@hiwaay.net>
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 09:44:09 -0600
Message-ID: <330F1449.2829@hiwaay.net>
To: Michael Sperberg-McQueen <U35395@UICVM.UIC.EDU>
CC: W3C SGML Working Group <w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org>
Michael Sperberg-McQueen wrote:
> If you mean we have an obligation to our community to make the XML spec
> incomprehensible and impenetrable, I respectfully and forcefully demur.

Turning down the torch....

The issue is normative and informative references.  What I am asking 
for is normative reference where material is "taken over" from 
authoritative sources.  Not intellectual borrowing, but real
are needed.  Let's not debate the authority of IETF vs ISO:  both 
have communities of interest and authoritative status.  IETF has 
a more limited scope than ISO.  ISO has a larger scope, but a 
diminished focus.  But what we are doing here is not YetAnotherRFC.
We are:

1.  subsetting an decade old international standard
2.  getting the benefits of the work that went into that standard
3.  establishing precedent for work among the different and 
    separately legitimized groups of individuals who make up 
    the working groups of these organizations.

The first issue has been considered.  XML is a proper subset of 
SGML.  Further, if the WG8 TC occurs, both XML and SGML and 
their substantially overlapping if not identical communities 
of users will benefit.  The second issue is trickier.  The 
problem of XML development as a separate language is the 
danger that incompatibilities will be introduced.  The 
W3C has had little success controlling the actions of its 
members with regards to using W3C standards in this way.
The XML editors and the working group have an obligation 
to protect ISO 8879 and any other standard which they 
"borrow from" or "take over".  Normative references can 
do much to stop a corroding of both works later in their 
development by ensuring that the authoritative reference is 
given proper attribution.  IOW, they might still screw with 
XML, but if they do, SGML testing is available to determine 

If one has to READ ISO 8879 or ISO 10744 to implement XML, 
then you are right, the spec needs clarification.  But I 
have full confidence in the editors of XML that this situation 
will not occur.

As for issue three, if this effort fails to respect all
contributing parties, then it will do more to tear down 
any chance for such cooperation in the future.  I may 
be mad (keep an open mind..), but I still understand 
that where I borrow, I have the responsibility to protect 
and return unharmed.

XML may succeed, but it can also do, or be used to do, 
tremendous damage to a decade of work, the community that 
did the work, and one of the most successful standards 
in the world.  The last I say with confidence because 
that is what all of us here have in common.

len bullard
Received on Saturday, 22 February 1997 10:44:07 UTC

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