DOCTYPE misunderstood

Jon Bosak bosak at atlantic-83.Eng.Sun.COM
Mon May 12 18:03:22 BST 1997

[Dave Pawson:]

| One line of my original message read something like
| 'What was the original intent' of DOCTYPE?
| [...]
| Come on gurus, what was it all about in the first place?
| It wasn't that long ago that you have forgotten ... was it!

Well, back before 1986, anyway.  That's when the SGML standard was

"Doctype" means "type of document."  Novels, telephone books, poems,
plays, bills of lading, and patient care records are types of
documents.  They have different structures and need differently named
tags if the tags are going to make sense to a human user or an
intelligent indexer.

You must start reading some of the easily available materials on this
subject before asking others for information.  You can start with the
XML page at W3C (go to and click on "XML", then
follow all the pointers from that page).  This reading will include
the XML FAQ and Robin Cover's magnificent SGML web site.  Then you can
hit a couple of the good beginning books on SGML.  I happen to be at
an SGML conference in Barcelona at the moment; I will take a look at
currently available introductory SGML books that might work well for
an XML newbie and reply back here with a list (probably a very short

Some people are working on putting up a general-purpose public XML
mailing list that should become available in the next few weeks.
Until then, I suggest that you post inquiries of the variety "What is
a doctype?" to the newsgroup comp.text.sgml and not to this xml-dev
list, which is for the use of technical experts engaged in the
construction of XML software.


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