Reliable endpoints for XML docs (and doclets)

Tom Bannon bannon at
Thu Mar 5 18:35:10 GMT 1998

Chris Maden wrote:
> [Tom Bannon]
> > Perhaps I've missed something, but I don't see that the start and
> > end points of XML documents are well defined, ie. something like
> > <xml> and </xml>, akin to HTML's <html> and </html>.  As XML is
> > rightly obsessed with the start and end of everything else, I find
> > this mystifying.  How am I to embed XML in other data (such as HTML,
> > but certainly not limited to it) without such markers (other than
> > hacking my own)?  An important feature of such markers is that they
> > can be located without having to be able to interpret any of the
> > content between them.  Implicitly defining the beginning and end of
> > an XML document as [bof] and [eof] appears shortsighted, if that is
> > the case.  Can you set me straight on this?
> The point of XML is that you can name your own element types.  A
> required one would defeat the entire purpose.

My take is that XML offers a method of structured description.  Required
pieces would not damage such a goal, aesthetically unpleasing as they
might be.  Besides, well defined beginnings and ends are aesthetically 

> An XML document may have exactly one root element that contains
> everything else.  When the first element begins, the document instance
> begins.  When that element ends, the document instance ends.
> See clause 2.1 in the XML specification.

Well, then by XML definition, XML documents are un-embeddedable, as the 
start of an XML document cannot be programmatically determined in the
general case (as <?XML ... ?> and <!DOCTYPE ...> are optional, and the 
name of the root element is arbitrary).  

Thus to embed, one would have to define their own start and end markers.
This can certainly be done, but it seems a much better idea to have this
be part of the XML definition so that it can be done in a standard way.

> By the way, xml-dev is for developers of XML applications.  Questions
> of this sort are probably more appropriate on XML-L.  Send mail to
> listserv at with a body of "subscribe xml-l".

Sorry, I'll copy this message there (when my subscription comes through!).


bannon at

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