Conformance in XML processors

Marcus Carr mrc at
Sun Jan 18 01:08:30 GMT 1998

Jeremie Miller wrote:

> The only reason I wrote a JavaScript XML parser even with the existance of
> conformant java based parsers available, is simply because I wanted extremely
> simple way to immediately access the contents of any XML fragment via
> JavaScript.  Once XML parsers are built into the browser and OS, it would be
> foolish to not use them.

I think there is a place for a process such as you have described and I agree
that once conformant parsers are more readily available, you would probably want
to utilise one. Discussion has tended to concentrate on either the 'conformant
parser' scenario, or the 'desperate perl hacker' - perhaps we just ignored the
almost inevitable onset of tools falling between these extremes. The development
of such tools should be encouraged, as long as their creators realise that in the
end, they will have to either develop up to fully conformant or probably face
relegation, unless the tool is only designed for a narrow and predictable band of
(dph-type) activity.

Peter Murray-Rust wrote:

> The WG has (I think rightly) said that there should not be conformance levels
> in XML. [For those not familiar with SGML, there are a large number of
> different options, many of which are not supported by many parsers.]

There are a number of areas in SGML where parsers either don't support certain
features (or worse yet, don't support them consistently), but they're typically
restricted to a high level set (subdoc, rank, etc.), so can be regarded as as
part of the superset that doesn't impact on XML. I also agree with the sentiment
that there shouldn't be conformance levels in XML, but I have always read that to
mean that an XML parser either conforms or it doesn't. Given the relative
simplicity of writing an XML parser (as compared to SGML), I think that's

It has been generally accepted that there is a place for non-conformant tools
(ala dph); perhaps we didn't anticipate them taking a form so close to the real
thing. Despite rapid maturing, this is still a new market - there are plenty of
applications still to be written and thrown away. Frenetic activity can only be
good for the market, as long as everybody's aware of the boundaries.


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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