Classification: XML Parser Features

David Megginson ak117 at
Sat Dec 13 15:45:47 GMT 1997

Peter Murray-Rust writes:

 > 	- some people think processor and parser are synonyms.
 > 	- some people think that a processor is a unit which contains
 > a parser but has additional integrated facilities.

The problem is a misalignment in terminology.  In SGML, an "SGML
application" is a DTD together with other support information (such as
documentation, conventions, etc.).  And although the terms are not
formally defined, SGML people often use 'parser' to describe the
logical component that translates the external representation of a
document into some sort of abstract internal format, and 'processor'
(or 'processing software', or 'formatter', in some cases), to describe
the logical component that acts on the information delivered by the

In XML, the spec confusingly defines 'processor' to fill the same
logical role as 'parser' in normal SGML usage, and 'application' to
fill the same logical role as 'processor' or 'processing software' in
normal SGML usage.  Of course, this confusion will exist only for
people who are already used to SGML.

I prefer 'parser', because it is at least unambiguous for both sides,
even if slightly unfamiliar for XML-only people; if I use 'processor',
I risk causing confusion for the sake of being strictly XML

All the best,


David Megginson                 ak117 at
Microstar Software Ltd.         dmeggins at

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