Comment delimiter (was: Entity replacement)

Peter Murray-Rust Peter at
Mon Apr 7 17:54:24 BST 1997

I can only give a second-hand version of the status of the drafts, but hope
this helps xml-dev'ers.  (Most of the ERB are busy with the WWW6 
conference - I'm sure that some will amplify or correct stuff here).

The drafts are produced by the Editorial Review Board  at regular intervals
for discussion.  It is stressed strongly that these are subject to frequent
change, and this is especially true in the XML process.   So, at the 
fundamental level, nothing is 'definite' :-) - [but that doesn't mean that
development can't take place.]

There is a list - XML-WG - on which invited members make comments on the
drafts, sometimes in response to the draft, sometimes in anticipation.
The ERB reads this discussion carefully and takes it into consideration
in producing drafts.  However nothing in the discussion - even if 
apparently generally accepted - is guaranteed to form part of the next 

The ERB votes on what should and shouldn't go in the drafts and the voting 
is recorded in the XML-WG mail.  WWW6 forms a special milestone for the
ERB and ERB members have been printing the drafts for the meeting.  I
hope that they will give some sort of report after WWW6 which will update

In message <199704062239.AAA01307 at> Ingo Macherius writes:
> In this list the terminals for ending and beginning comments are mentioned
> as "<--*" and "*-->" several times, e.g. in the one this reply is based on:
> > 1) PEs aren't supposed to be recognized inside comments (nothing is except the
> > terminal '*-->'), so they aren't supposed to be expanded.
> In both WD-XML drafts a comment is declared without the "*" star, so are
> the examples given (Clause [17] (9700331) and [21] (961114)).
> Could someone of the knowing kind explicitly confirm the draft ?

I haven't been involved in XML-WG from the but when I joined (Jan) comments
were <!--  -->, then they changed to <!--* *--> and now they have changed 
back.  But note that there is a difference from SGML in that -- ... --
is not allowed inside comments.

As a general point I feel that the current XML draft is sufficiently close
to what the final outcome will be that it's worth developing applications
(including documents) in it.  Since any XML document is also an SGML 
document it should be fairly straightforward to retransform them if there
are minor changes to XML.  Of course this is only my personal opinion and
I don't at present have customers who will lose faith if the spec is 
promoted too early and then changed.

XML-LANG (the draft you are referring to) has gone through several 
revisions and IMO the recent changes have been mainly tidying up rather
than fundamental.  A lot of work has gone into clarifying areas where
interpretations can differ (e.g. 4.4 Treatment of entities).  We should
realise that some apparently minor changes (e.g. the introduction of
PUBLIC) may have large consequences and this is an area that the ERB
had to take a view on.  (There was a *lot* of discussion about PUBLIC
on the WG).  The ERB has to balance many things including compatibility,
interoperability, ease/possibility of implementation, ease of learning,
uniqueness of interpretation, acceptability in the market, etc.  

The next draft of XML-LINK has also been prepared for the WWW6 and will
no doubt be announced here when it's formally public.


BTW.  the fact that xml-dev is not very busy at present doesn't mean that
nobody's doing anything :-) - in fact the reverse.  There are about
10 demos scheduled for WWW6 and I know that most of the major contributors
here (including me) have been getting something together to present.  I
think after this milestone, then some goals will be clearer and there will
be time to address the next stage.

Finally I should like to congratulate the members of the ERB in having
managed this process so fast and with so much harmonisation.  I am sure
that contributors here have helped, in that a language is not much use
if it cannot be implemented or is flawed, and some important issues have 
been thrashed out here.  And don't be afraid to post - a lot of people
read this list.


Peter Murray-Rust, domestic net connection
Virtual School of Molecular Sciences

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