New XML article

Peter Murray-Rust Peter at
Sat May 24 08:26:48 BST 1997

In message <199705232306.BAA13916 at> Ingo Macherius writes:
> Just a note:
> I went through the writer/editor/writer cycle 8 times for this article. The
> main problem was the XML terminology. Formally correct sentences are often
> not understandable by non-expert readers, while understandable versions are
> often formally incorrect. So the cycle often was me writing formally correct

I think this is extremely important.  I have been (trying) to interpret 
and implement the XML-LINK spec and getting some of it wrong :-).  XML is 
difficult in places unless you are quite familiar with SGML - I think XML-LINK
will be a major challenge to the drafters.  (I'm sure they'll manage it :-).

This is why I'm keen about diagrams.  XML-link is described in words, and 
it's incredibly easy to read the wrong meaning into them.  For example,
the 'locators' in 'links' locate 'resources' and it's not easy to write
programs until it's absolutely clear what each of these means.  The reverse
is also true - when something is described clearly and precisely it makes it
enormously easier to write code.

> words, my editor "improving" them, me making the sentence correct again etc.
> XML/SGML language could turn out to be a major problem for XML. E.g. just
> try to explain the differences between markup/element/tag to a HTML person.
> In HTML it's all the same ... (at least in common understanding).

I agree.  There are several aspects.  One to protect the newcomer from too
much terminology to start with.  Of course it must always be precise.
Another is to relate abstract terminology to concrete examples where possible.

I have developed an XML application to manage terminology and I'm just about
to start collecting XML terminology for it (unless someone is already doing 
this.  It's loosely based on ISO12620 and displays a (hierarchical) glossary 
as an XML tree.  


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

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