Proposal Announcement - XML DTDs to XML docs

Simon St.Laurent SimonStL at
Fri May 22 16:59:25 BST 1998

Ron Bourret wrote:
>Hence, the number of tools available for exploring the data and 
>the standards relating to these tools (e.g. SAX and DOM) will 
>always be greater than those relating to DTDs.  Simon's proposal, 
>assuming it can be realized, erases this difference, which is 
>exceedingly useful to those of us who want to explore DTDs.  
>While I think something like XML-Data is needed in the long 
>run for data type description and so on, I agree with Simon that 
>a less ambitious subset is very useful in the short run.

This cuts right to the chase, making the clearest argument for a less 
ambitious proposal that moves XML DTDs to document syntax.  I'm considering 
rewriting the proposal less as a concrete proposal for syntax (which just 
seems to generate endless arguments, and which I'm not an expert at anyway) 
and more as an exploration of the implications of (and possibilities for) 
using XML document syntax for DTDs.

As an outsider, albeit one who's digging through _The SGML Handbook_, I'm 
fairly concerned that a lot of the specs are attempting to do too much.  I'm 
very glad, for instance, that XML-Linking was broken down into a spec for 
Linking and a spec for XPointers.  XML-Data seems to me to do far too much in 
one place, providing at once an XML syntax for DTDs and a powerful set of data 
schemas.  While I can't see the battles directly, XML-Data seems to have a lot 
of people rather annoyed for a variety of widely different reasons.  Still, in 
the long run, many projects need its capabilities.

Slowing down seems like one answer to this.  Build the foundation and then 
build the skyscraper.  I'm not totally delighted with the current foundation - 
DTD syntax - but I can imagine it being a whole lot worse.  Maybe the speed of 
the standards process is too slow for developers who want it all _now_, but I 
think we'd do well to be less ambitious but improve on the foundations we have 
now.  Reducing the number of ways to achieve the same result is a good way to 
do this, as is making the foundation extensible.

Simon St.Laurent
Dynamic HTML: A Primer / XML: A Primer / Cookies

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