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Re: Initial Draft Finding on Principle of Least Power

From: Gavin Thomas Nicol <gtn@rbii.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2005 11:07:53 -0500
Message-Id: <02ACFDB1-9000-4FF8-A74F-F53E9466017C@rbii.com>
To: www-tag@w3.org


On Dec 22, 2005, at 6:35 AM, Bill de hÓra wrote:
> "Nowadays we have to appreciate the reasons for picking not the most
> powerful solution but the least powerful. The reason for this is that
> the less powerful the language, the more you can do with the data  
> stored
> in that language."
>
> The spectacle of initially and deliberately weak languages that  
> have had
> to have extra expressive power bolted on is so very common, and  
> flies in
> the face of this advice, that I wonder if this principle is  
> applicable.

In the context of the WWW it is. One of the largish issues people  
have to deal with is manipulating data. If you put too much power  
into the language, it becomes impossible to manipulate the data  
directly. Web templating languages and AJAX are good examples of  
this: in both cases it is possible, and indeed common, for people to  
produce data which, for the most part, cannot be processed by  
automated means. This means that things like aural gateways/text  
based browsers become almost impossible to implement in the general  
case.

FWIW. One of the goals of putting XML on the web was to give a rich  
means for description (declarative programming) thereby reducing the  
need for procedural programming. For example, a lot of the stuff done  
in DHTML/AJAX (dropdown menus etc.) could have been done by providing  
a richer, but still declarative model. In that case, something as  
rich as a sophisticated AJAX application could also be made available  
in a form optimised for blind users with little work on the part of  
the site developer. As it is now, developing "scalable" web  
applications can be, at best, complicated.
Received on Thursday, 22 December 2005 16:08:20 UTC

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