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Re: When and how should tesuji be a link?

From: Peter Murray-Rust <Peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 1997 10:10:25 GMT
Message-Id: <8029@ursus.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
Cc: elm@arbortext.com
This is a very useful posting and clarifies some of the issues that I think
the ERB needs to address in the July 1 revision.  [One important aspect 
is to what extent the draft should help people to understand links, and to
waht extent it is a spartan description of the syntax.  Personally I think
that additional material - maybe in an addendum - will be valuable, because
other wise there will be confusion which will be reflected by incomplete

Eve has highlighted the difficulty of Webheads implementing out-of-line
links and I fully support her analysis.  I believe that something like
MULTI or HERE() is required, though I suspect there may be other approaches,
especially for non-textual documents.

Where possible I will try to answer in the same spirit, and hopefully the 
same terms, as Eliot used in his posting to xml-dev.

In message <199706142012.QAA02545@village.doctools.com> Eve Maler writes:
> 			*		*		*
[TimB speaking]
> We have a problem as to what's a resource and what isn't.  I am mostly
> responsible for this; I dreamed up a cute example of what I claimed
> to be an XML xlink and showed it to lots of audiences... a lot of people
> like it, but in retrospect it turns out not to be right.

I think I agree.  If <L> was defined as XML-LINK="SIMPLE" and <X> as a
generic container with no XML-LINK attribute, then the example would be
viable.  Whether it's what was fully intended is unclear.

Let's recast the example:
 <!DOCTYPE test [
 Faced with a tight situation, Sakata found a
 <L ROLE="EG" LABEL="English translation"
    SHOW="NEW" HREF="/cgi-bin/xlate?term=tesuji" />
 <L ROLE="PIC" LABEL="Illustration"
 <L ROLE="CourseNotes" LABEL="Course Notes"
    HREF="notes.xml#ID(def-Tesuji)..DITTO,NEXT(3,P)" />
 <L ROLE="ToMove" LABEL="Jump to move in game record"
    SHOW="REPLACE" HREF="game.xml#Move127" />
This is valid, and meaningful.  JUMBO will support this in the following ways:
(a) Tree. (b) text - at present only HTML.

 X has 5 children (I ignore any whitespace).  I will also assume
that LABEL meant TITLE :-).  In tree mode JUMBO would render this as:

		L: English Translation
		L: Illustration
		L: Course Notes
		L: Jump to Move in game record
		PCDATA: tesuji

(where L is a user supplied icon.  Clicking the  icon will activate the 
display() of the object (e.g. L.display()).  Since L is an XML-LINK it gets
a special arrow icon which is builtin.

(In text mode - HTML - it would create a text stream with additional link
icons or blue text.  Since <L> has no content, there is no blue text (not
even 'tesuji').

If the icons are clicked in order:
	1. would bring up a new window whose contents were the result of the 
CGI search.  If that had a MIME type in JUMBO's list, it would try to use that.
	2. would resolve the TEI query and return an object.  It then uses a 
special EMBED area to display the object in (images in a tree are messy).
	3. Since this is a span, and spans don't map onto trees easily (we've
had this discussion), JUMBO wouldn't do anything *in tree mode*.  In text mode
it might try to display an event stream from the remot document (that will
also depend on whether a span was meaningful in the remote document).  This
is not implemented yet.
	4. JUMBO would delete the current page and replace it by the object at
location Move127.  If this were tree-structured it would use a TOC 
representation.  If the object had a display() method, it would use that.
	5. It would display the word 'tesuji'.  If there had been a longer 
string it would bring up a larger window with all the content of that PCDATA.

The option ACTUATE="AUTO" is also all supported and meaningful.

My understanding of these links are that they are 'inline' and that the
implicit ends are at the nodes in document corresponding to the <L> element.  
Thus DESCENDANT(1,L,ROLE,"EG") identifies the inline end of link 1 (and so on).

PCDATA 'tesuji' is not connected with the link structure in any way.

*IF* the last link had been
 <L ROLE="ToMove" LABEL="Jump to move in game record"
    SHOW="REPLACE" HREF="game.xml#Move127" />tesuji</L>

tesuji would have been a PCDATA child of L.  This would not make it a resource
or part of one, but it would be the content of a node which was the end of
link 4. It would be painted blue in text mode.

I have expanded this at length *** because I believe that my analysis and its
implementation in JUMBO is application-independent ***.  Wherever something
is application independent it should be flagged in the spec, because then
it is capable of being re-used consistently.

[Of course it may be difficult to render the results visually.  EMBEDing
something in a tree isn't pretty.  Links may end up as a set of spaghetti, and
so forth.  And I have only tackled text and trees - there may be many other
representations of XML documents.  However, assuming that each ELEMENT maps
onto a unit-of-storage, point on the display, etc. SIMPLE should be 

Now let us go to Tim's example, with the spirit of MULTI hovering around.
> First, here's the example:
> <!DOCTYPE test [
> ]>

How does this alter the situation from above?  My analysis is as follows:
<X XML-LINK="EXTENDED"> announces that:
	- it will contain at least two elements of type XML-LINK="LOCATOR"
	 *OR* a LOCATOR will point to two or more locations.
	- all children of an <X> are regarded as components of **one** link
	- all children inherit a set of default attributes from X
	- the position of X in the document is unrelated to the ends of the 
		links (without the HERE/MULTI proposal).
	- the information should be stored in a database/hashtable

Therefore on encountering an X a processor should:
	- create a single database of EXTENDED links if one doesn't exist
	- apply any defaults to the LOCATORs
	- store the link-object (one per EXTENDED) in the database
	- wait until the application tells it what to do with the entries

Eliot has listed some of the things that such a link database should be prepared
to record, and I won't repeat them.

One application-independent way of referring to such links could be through
SIMPLE links.  Thus the following might be possible:


<P> Faced with a tight situation, Sakata found a
<A HREF="index.xml#t33)"> tesuji.</A></P>

to be rendered as:

Faced with a tight situation, Sakata found a

Where [] denotes a hyperlink icon.  Note that it only has 'tesuji' as the
content due to a **browser-specific** convention.  If there had been no
content, then the rendering might have been [link], or [*], or
it *might* have picked up the target ID as [index-t33].  All of this
is independent of the syntax.
The link could now point to:

<X ID="t33" TITLE="tesuji" XML-LINK="EXTENDED">
 <L ROLE="EG" LABEL="English translation"
    SHOW="NEW" HREF="/cgi-bin/xlate?term=tesuji" />
 <L ROLE="PIC" LABEL="Illustration"
 <L ROLE="CourseNotes" LABEL="Course Notes"
    HREF="notes.xml#ID(def-Tesuji)..DITTO,NEXT(3,P)" />
 <L ROLE="ToMove" LABEL="Jump to move in game record"
    SHOW="REPLACE" HREF="game.xml#Move127" />

This is an out-of-line link, with 4 ends, each with a different role.
*how* it is presented to the user/application is undefined.  In the example
above clicking on the text would display() the <X> object.  It could be 
a browser convention that this always came up as a menu.  If so, what would
happen is that the orginal document would be hidden, and replaced 
(SHOW="REPLACE" is the default, right?) by a menu of 4 items.  These items
are LOCATORs, and I would be tempted to implement them using the same code as
SIMPLE, where possible.  However, they also have ROLEs which must be 
honoured in an application-dependet way.  One convention would be that all
LOCATORs with the same ROLE might be grouped together.

What I am still unclear about is what is the role of the attributes of
EXTENDED.  They can be used for defaults for the LOCATORs, but I can also
see places where the EXTENDED can be viable objects (such as menus).  Is there
always/sometimes/never an extra level of indirection involved with the 
EXTENDED objects?
Back to Eve's analysis :-)
> The problem centers on the fact that we've conflated two concepts
> in each linking type:
>   o The in-line (contextual) versus out-of-line (independent) nature
>     of the link

Yes.  Tim's was implicitly contextual.  

>   o Addressing a single resource versus potentially multiple resources

Yes.  And this is without the ability for a TEI search to return multiple
> A SIMPLE link is in-line/single, and an EXTENDED link is

> out-of-line/multi.  The tesuji example, however, is in-line/multi
> (and, of course, it's possible to imagine an out-of-line/single
> example).

I find this difficult!  If I create a document 'links.xml' with the content:
(conventions as before):

<L ROLE="single" HREF="foo.xml">

this is not a link as it only has one end.  It can only be managed if the
HREF points to multiple (TEI) locations.

> Tim suggested two possible solutions:
>   1. If the content of the EXTENDED linking element is supposed to
>      act as a resource, a locator element must appear inside it saying:
>      <L ROLE="whatever" Label="whatever" HREF="#HERE()"/>

*Now* I understand this!  However, HERE should refer not to the end
of the LOCATOR but to the position/address/'resource' of its parent LOCATOR.
>     This translates to "All links should be either in-line/single
>     or out-of-line/multi."

Yes, and the HERE convention is a shorthand for explicitly putting in a
link end.  (My analysis of Tim's example suggests that the link has 5 ends,
one of which is the location in the document where it originally occurred,
but that the word 'tesuji' is not involved.)

I think that inline/single + out-of-line/multi is what the draft offers and 
can be worked with.  I think that what Tim was trying to do
can be done with the present syntax.  BUT it's easy to go wrong.

>   2. The content of all EXTENDED linking elements must be treated
>      as resources, much as the content of SIMPLE linking elements
>      is supposed to be treated as resources.

I don't think this works.  If we create separate files, whose primary 
function is to contain links, then any 'content' (only text is allowed at
present) is unlikely to have a useful context.

>      This translates to "All multi links should be in-line links."

There is already potential for confusion and this will add to it.

> I have proposed a third:
>   3. In XML-Link, offer three types of linking elements: SIMPLE
>      (in-line/single), MULTI (in-line/multi), and EXTENDED
>      (out-of-line/multi).  Make their templates distinct.
> The templates would look like this:
> SIMPLE: An element that links two resources, one of which (by
> definition) is the content of the linking element itself.
Following Eliot's analysis, I think this is dangerous.  A link has ends
which are points/locations in documents.  Sometimes those points will correspond
to elements which have content (e.g. <A> *may* have complex content), and 
sometimes they won't.  If the link ends at a location which corresponds to 
'content', it's up to the application what to do with that content.

> >
> MULTI: An element that links two or more resources, one of which
> (by definition) is the content of the linking element itself.
i.e. the content of 'MULTI'
> >
> >
> EXTENDED: An element that links two or more resources.  EXTENDED
> linking elements should not have content.

would it be possible to rewrite this as

to make sure that the link has at least two ends.  Or might the LOCATOR
involve a TEI search that *might* return multiple ends?

> >
> <!-- LOCATOR as above -->
> My thinking went like this:
>   Understanding the in-line/out-of-line distinction seems to be
>   the biggest mental leap XML users and implementors need to make
>   (witness Peter M-R's very reasonable questions about "how do I
>   implement EXTENDED links? what is there to do?").  Because of
>   the Web experience, everyone already gets "from-to", but "between"
>   is a lot harder.  Therefore, if we actually need the notion of
>   out-of-line links anymore, it would be useful if our link typology
>   and our syntax clarified the distinction.

I see the force of this.  I think it will take me a day or two to think about 
whether it's the best way forward.  One obvious use of MULTI is Tim's, which
can be thought of as a link where one end has a special role (a 'root') and
the MULTI approach formalises this.  Strinctly I understand that a link can
have many ends and that none have a special implicit role unless specified
in ROLE.

Put another way, MULTI looks like the (illegal):

found a <A HREF="index.xml#ID(tesuji)" ROLE="English"
           HREF="tesuji.gif" ROLE="picture"
           HREF="tesuji.anim" ROLE="animation">
which I use to emphasise the asymmetric nature of the link.  If a processor
encountered this would it be expected to store all the links out of line?
Could someone then say 'give me all the pointers to 'tesuji' in the
index?  The answer must 'yes', but an implementer could miss this.

If MULTI is used, it has to be stressed that these are multi-way links
and that these have to be stored.

>   The question is, Do we need out-of-line links if we've got links
>   that can point to multiple other resources?  For me, the power
>   of MULTI is that I can now imagine pointing my browser at a
>   document that contains simply a pile o' links, and having it *do*
>   *something* when it gets there.  The problem with pure ilinks is

My teaching is that links don't necessarily 'do' things, they just 'are'.
So MULTI has to be prepared to create a database.  For example, a link
could be part of a Java call-graph, a marriage, the last person you phoned,

>   that they're not interoperable; the behavior of a system with
>   respect to the links is entirely dependent on private expectations
>   about what the links are and do.  The advantage of MULTI links

Yes - I agree strongly with this.

>   is that you can still manage them as ilinks, while maintaining
>   them (if you choose) in an XML document form that is useful *as
>   a document* in the regular sense.  This is a little like the
>   appeal of SHOW and ACTUATE, only much more pure with regard to
>   presentation independence.  Further, any Webhead who's ever coded
>   an <A> link can easily see what to do with a tesuji-type construct
>   in regular documents.

Yes.  The question is whether it's a separate type of link, or whether we
can prescribe a generic action/role.

>   If we *do* need the notion of pure out-of-line links for some
>   reason, then I'm assuming that it's useful for applications to
>   be able to predict, on encountering the start-tag of the linking
>   element, whether it's in-line or out-of-line.  If this is true,
>   then we do need to distinguish MULTI from EXTENDED links in
>   something like the manner shown above.  However (just to undermine

I agree here.  EXTENDED is allowed in the flow of textual documents but in
a rather restricted sense.

>   my own proposal a little more :-), there's a gotcha here too:
>   Note that the EXTENDED template shown above disallows #PCDATA
>   content.  However, it's possible that a user will choose not to
>   follow the template or will not validate against an element
>   declaration that does follow it.  Thus, there might be content
>   inside the linking element anyway; the template can't *enforce*
>   its own prescription.  This should not be an XML-Link error, but

I have repeatedly alerted this group to the need to consider the 
validation or otherwise of XML-LINK semantics :-) Nuff sed.

>   the spec should be clear that if any content is present, it is
>   not a resource unless one of the locator elements explicitly
My impression from Eliot's analysis is that this word is causing us
a lot of trouble :-)

>   addresses that content with #HERE().  Yuck.  If the template
>   *could* enforce its own prescription, the case for making the
>   syntactic distinction between MULTI and EXTENDED would be
>   strengthened.
>   Tim's and Jon's experiences with teaching the tesuji example
>   demonstrate why I'm not in favor of suggestion #1, and why the
>   problem outlined above is so yucky: It's incredibly intuitive to
>   assume that any content of a linking element *must* be part of
>   the relationship, and it's incredibly hard to imagine that a word
>   inside a linking element is just another random word in the
>   document.

But it's formally correct, as I understand it :-).

I'm sympathetic to Eve's analysis.  The point is that the current draft
is too spartan to support the creation of interoperable XML-LINK applications.
We have to have something that guides implementers to widely usable generic
solutions. MULTI and HERE are possible ways forward.  There  may be others.
>   If we do need all of the SIMPLE, MULTI, and EXTENDED functional
>   types, I want to warn against the false economy of having a
>   maximum of two syntactic types.  We've already discussed and
>   discarded the idea of combining all the link types into one; the
>   primary reason it didn't work was because we weren't willing to
>   treat an HREF on the EXTENDED linking element as a locator equal
>   in meaning and functionality to the locator subelements.  (Our
>   current spec doesn't offer an HREF attribute on EXTENDED.)

Again, what are its other attributes for ?

>   Therefore, I believe we should keep our current separation of
>   single-locator and multiple-locator links, and not consider
>   offering a super-duper in-line/single+multi link type.

I agree.  You have to be a really abstract thinker to manage all the
indirection required by a single link type.  Each additional level
of indirection multiplies my coding time by half an order of magnitude.
And hurts my brain.
>   Just to complete this picture, I wanted to point out that there
>   seems to be no good reason to create a linking type for out-of-line
>   links that point to only one other resource in the syntactic
>   style of <A>.  The creation of out-of-line links assumes enough
>   sophistication that we don't need the syntactic sugar of making
>   an entry-level "single" version available.
> 	Eve
To summarise from the view of a Webhead implementer.  *any* guidance from a
spec as to how something is implemented is neormously valuable.  One of
the really exciting things about XML is that 90+% of the decisions are
taken away from me.  I couldn't have written CML/JUMBO statrting from
nowhere (at least I've tried previously and failed).

XML-LINK is potentially incredibly powerful.  However the really powerful
applications will contain multiple levels of indirection (in C, this
would contain things with lots of stars like
*linkLocator[*linkAddress] = ***linkTarget;
and all those stars make my brain swim unless I have a very clear roadmap.)

I suspect we need some halfway houses - as suggested.  Another possible area is
whether we alert an application to the fact that there are EXTENDED links in 
the  document and it should 'start' by processing them.


Peter Murray-Rust, domestic net connection
Virtual School of Molecular Sciences
Received on Sunday, 15 June 1997 07:56:58 UTC

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