Conformance in XML processors

Peter Murray-Rust peter at
Sun Jan 18 12:28:26 GMT 1998

OK - let's have another go - I really am trying to be constructive, rather
than argumentative.

At 04:45 18/01/98 -0500, Paul Prescod wrote:
>Peter Murray-Rust wrote:
>> Not all XML applications will wish to use browsers  - they may wish to call
>> parsing functionality from C programs, UNIX shells and other places. I
>> agree wholeheartedly that if XML libraries are universally available then
>> there shouldn't be a problem. That is one reason why I'm keen to see SAX
>> available in other languages than Java.   However I have many colleagues
>> who still use FORTRAN and other languages  where I suspect it will be some
>> time before e a set of XML libraries become available.
>Hopefully most fortran compilers will be able to link to C libraries.

Exactly. And I hope that the community is able to develop them. [I am sure
all the functionality is present already in SP, but I confess that as a
novice to SGML I didn't find it easy to find my way around when I first
looked at it. Treat that as a reflection on me.]

>Another alternative is to pipe the data through a normalizer as we do
>for full SGML. Presumably even in Fortan a parser for normalized XML
>will not take more than two days to write.

Exactly. IMO this is one of the attractions of SAX-C. And this is where I
think we agree. It was precisely this normalised aspect of XML I was
addressing. [I should make it clear that this is not hypothetical - I am
confident that some sections of the molecular community will adopt XML, but
only up to a certain level at the beginning.] A typical example of a WF,
normalised, XML file might look like:

<?xml version="1.0"?> <!-- magic incantation -->
<MOL NAME="water" xml:lang="EN">

Essentially such a file is a subset of the ESIS information (no attribute
typing, no entities, no notation) and uses no CDATA or entity references.
It is my contention that there will be many people (some will be DPHs) who
will be quite happy to create XML files no more sophisticated than this and
will want *tools* to *operate on* them. [I carefully avoid the use of the
word "process" or "processor".] These tools may even be
application-independent. I was simply making the case that in my opinion
there is a role for such tools, and that it is perfectly reasonable for
such tools to say "I can  operate on certain types of XML file. If I come
across a more complicated one, I'll abort and tell you." 
>> Perhaps my experience has been clouded by  early exposure to C++, but it
>> was extremely common there to find that different compilers had different
>> functionality. If this is a non-problem for XML I rejoice.
>C++ became a standard only within the last few months. Everything that
>was labelled C++ up to then was a valiant attempt to track a moving
>target of epic complexity. Even now C++ compilers have wildly divergent
>feature sets because implementing one is so hard that it takes years to
>get it right (and the requisite years have not yet passed for some
>compilers). The important thing to note is that what we have in the
>meantime are "not right" (in other words, not true C++ compilers).

Agreed. I am reassured that the creation of standard tools for XML, XLL,
XSL  and so on will be much less arduous. 
> Paul Prescod
>"You have the wrong number."
>"Eh? Isn't that the Odeon?"
>"No, this is the Great Theater of Life. Admission is free, but the 
>taxation is mortal. You come when you can, and leave when you must. The 
>show is continuous. Good-night." -- Robertson Davies, "The Cunning Man"
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