Sequence <was> Access Languages ...

Marcus Carr mrc at
Sun Nov 23 21:22:36 GMT 1997

Mark L. Fussell wrote:

> SGML is designed to describe information, and although the original vision may
> have been focused on describing documents I believe that was just because it was
> the particular task at hand.

Actually, the task at hand has always been to capture the information as cleanly
and thoroughly as possible with as little regard to the downstream applications as
possible. Several years ago we converted to SGML a substantial amount of military
data with an anticipated lifespan of fifty years. At the time, there were no
satifactory SGML repositories, yet we are not precluded from uploading to one when
they arrrive even if it does mean (an easy) SGML to XML conversion of the data.
Similarly, and with all due respect to the idea of a repository, by the time this
data reaches its twilight there will be some very different mechanisms for
managing data and I daresay the repository will be long gone.

We know that XML/SGML won't cover everything at once - the quickest path to
failure is to try to make it do so. Stage one, capture the data as best you can
anticipate and hopefully in a way that also works for authors, stage two, convert
it for use in specific applications and write semantic support mechanisms.
Disregard of any type of application is the greatest strength of XML/SGML - we
must not be tempted to lose sight of that no matter how tempting the siren's call.
It's a long game...


Marcus Carr                  email:  mrc at
Allette Systems (Australia)  email:  info at
Level 10, 91 York Street     www:
Sydney 2000 NSW Australia    phone:  +61 2 9262 4777
                             fax:    +61 2 9262 4774

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