A little wish for short end tags

Liam Quin liamquin at interlog.com
Sat May 16 10:04:19 BST 1998

On Fri, 15 May 1998, Gregg Reynolds wrote:
> Given: 
> 	1. Short tags
> 	2. Some non-trivial number of docs marked up with short-tags
> 	3. Some non-trivial number of DPH's desperate to hack at these docs;
> Isn't it likely that some non-trivial number of XML normalizers will
> become at least as widespread as perl?

I wish people would stop this.

There are no minimisation features in XML.
This is a major reason why it is succeeding.

Yes, perl will include an XML parser.

None the less, there are a lot of good reasons for keeping the
full end tags, and these have been discussed carefully and at
great length.

Handling </> requires keeping a stack and processing the entire
document from the beginning.  There are no constraints on the
possible depth of the stack.

Yes, you can keep a stack in perl.  Yes, you can read the document
into memory too, if you have enough memory.

<><p<e/this/ syntax saves even <e/more/ bytes, and it only adds a
few days to the time to implement a parser, and a few dozen more
test cases, and it only means a few thousand more people won't use
XML, and that the parser will be too large for a few more uses.

* Why stop there?
* this is a perfectly valid SGML bullet list, with the asterisks
  getting replaced by ITEM tags automatically, and OMITTAG filling
  in the end tags.
* note that you can map just about any character to a tag, except
  an upper case B, which cannot be used or escaped from its special
* with the RANK feature, you can save a few more bytes, and it's often
  fairly straight forward to add once you have all the other features.
* and with LINK, you can have attributes added automatically, so you
  don't need to put them in the DTD or the document directly.

In other words, every SGML feature has uses, and if XML had them all,
it would no longer be a subset suitable for widespread use.

There is already software to mormalise null end tags.  It didn't make
SGML catch on.  "Full SGML" is too complex.  It is widely used, but
XML looks like it will be used massively more widely than its parent.

Stop trying to add complexities.

XML 1.0 is published.  Use it.


Liam Quin --  the barefoot typographer -- Toronto
lq-text: freely available Unix text retrieval
IRC: discuss XML/SGML/XSL/XLL/DSSSL Mondays irc.technonet.net in #XML
email address: l i a m q u i n, at host: i n t e r l o g  dot  c o m

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