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RE: [XML Schema 1.1] Many questions about openContent

From: G. Ken Holman <gkholman@CraneSoftwrights.com>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 12:49:15 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "'xmlschema-dev@w3.org'" <xmlschema-dev@w3.org>
At 2009-05-29 12:32 -0400, Costello, Roger L. wrote:
>Noah, you made an interesting choice of words:
> > In plain English it says ...
>Why can't the specification be written in plain English?

Because English is imprecise and writing software to English words 
introduces interpretation differences.

>Why is it written so painfully complex?

A specification is not a tutorial, it is a exacting description.

>Surely specifications can be written to be both easy to understand 
>and precise. No?

I doubt it.  I tried in earlier revisions of OASIS CVA files and the 
editors hacked away a lot of the English because it was distracting, 
imprecise and there were possible interpretations of the English that 
would have been contradictory.

>This is complete gobbledygook:

No, it is quite precise.  I would understand the word "gobbledygook" 
as not being understandable.  As you walk through the text, there is 
very little opportunity for misinterpretation, thus there is a 
greater likelihood it will be commonly understood.

Just think of it as an opportunity to write books and deliver 
training!  I've helped many people with XSLT, XSL-FO, UBL, code lists 
and now XQuery by presenting the contents of the specifications in a 
thematic, functional orientation, and purposely chose in 1997 to name 
the classes "Practical ...." to emphasize that it isn't a 
regurgitation of the specification but a perspective of practical 
use.  When students need precision, there are hyperlinks in the 
content to take them to the specification.

>Sorry to be such a whiner. Perhaps others don't have any difficulty 
>reading the specification.

A specification requires work to read it properly so that one is 
assured to read it correctly.  Think also of those for whom English 
is not their first language ... having an unambiguous (and possibly 
tediously precise) description probably helps them by avoiding trying 
to guess at what some English words mean.

Consider also that the target audience is very different:  the 
specification is written for implementers of schema validation 
engines, while books and training materials are written for users who 
need to write schemas to validate their documents.  Two quite 
different audiences for the same content.

As to whether it is *well* written in its exacting nature, that is up 
to schema engine implementers to comment on.

I hope this helps.

. . . . . . . . . . . Ken

XQuery/XSLT/XSL-FO hands-on training - Los Angeles, USA 2009-06-08
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Received on Friday, 29 May 2009 16:49:55 UTC

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