Reporting empty elements

james anderson mecom-gmbh at
Wed Jan 7 14:35:16 GMT 1998

David Megginson wrote:

> One problem is that the PR does not fully define the information set
> that an XML parser is required to return to an application (there a
> few scattered rules, such as the ignorable-whitespace rule).  ...

in my, as yet, short presence in this group, quandries of this sort have arisen
with great regularity.
that among a group of people who have no small amount of experience with the
subject matter.

at those times, i miss something as clear as a denotational definition for
xm<EM>l</EM>. that is, something which expressed the equivalent dom instances /
content for all legal xml forms. the reading i've done in the dom draft has been
informative, but the relations are (too) often left as an "exercise for the
reader". in the long run, such a definition would (have already) save(d) a deal
of time and effort.

the behaviour of all parsers and processors (including sax) would be much easier
to describe, since, even in cases where they don't handle the full "language",
it would be clear that, in order to "conform", they would have to either produce
at least a consistent dom-subset, or (if a parser) provide sufficient data to
produce one from that xml subset which they do handle.

given such a definition, even an api as reduced as the sax would be easier to
i recognize, that the xml-standard should neither prescribe nor proscribe
implementation techniques. i can understand this. i also know that a lot of has
been accomplished in a very short time. still, as an implementor, i often think
that it would be <EM>very</EM> nice, to have (already often "had") a standard
which were actually that of a "language" rather than that of a "notation".

has anyone addressed this task?

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