David Megginson david at megginson.com
Mon Jul 13 17:18:53 BST 1998

Simon St.Laurent writes:

 > If and when there are XML editing tools that are any good - and my
 > pessimism comes from my rather miserable experiences with even the
 > latest HTML tools - this may be true.  In the meantime, lots and
 > lots of experienced coders, the ones most likely to gravitate to
 > XML, are still going to be hand-coding.

By far the best solution is for developers to keep their scripts out
of line and point to them -- that lets each language (programming or
markup) be represented using its natural syntax.  The advantages are
quite significant:

1. Ease of authoring: you can create your script using tools
   customised for the script's language (such as an Emacs mode) --
   that way, you get syntax highlighting, paren matching, etc., and
   don't have to escape XML delimiters.

2. Ease of management: since the script is outside of the XML/HTML
   document, is easy to create, store, test, and revision separately.

3. Ease of analysis: someone else looking at your work can easily tell
   what is markup and what is code; you don't need an analyst who
   knows _both_ XML and the scripting language.

4. Modularity: since the script is self-contained, it is easy to
   replace it later without necessarily editing the original document.

5. Ease of Reuse: since the CSS, ECMAScript, or whatever stands alone,
   you can reuse the same script for many documents, and all documents
   will register changes instantly and automatically.

The disadvantage is that management becomes difficult when there are
dozens (or hundreds) of small code fragments rather than one large one
-- that is why my advice does not yet apply to literate programming
(at least, not until there's good tool support).

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at megginson.com

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