Serializations and data structures (was Re: Topic Maps on SQL)

W. Eliot Kimber eliot at
Wed Nov 25 15:28:59 GMT 1998

At 01:24 PM 11/25/98 +0100, Lars Marius Garshol wrote:

>This is all based on a hidden assumption: that all tools interpret and
>implement the grove model in exactly the same way. Can you really guarantee
>that for something as complex as groves for decades? There'll be no
>disagreement on the actual sequence of bytes in the files, but their
>interpretation in terms of the abstract grove is another thing entirely.

If we can't do this, then I see little hope for the future of humanity
because it means we're all hopeless morons.  It's just not that hard a
thing to do.

First, the fundamental grove model is not that complex: nodes with
properties, a few data types, a three relationship types, and the idea of
"content" and "data" as identified subparts of the larger grove tree.  

Second, the groves produced by different tools can be easily tested by
generating their canonical string representation and comparing them.
TechnoTeacher has already used this technique in testing their GroveMinder
product against the groves constructed by SP.

Third, we can (and must) improve the definition of the SGML grove
construction process to remove any ambiguities there might be (there aren't
many, I don't think, but the definition is not as transparent as I'd like
it to be). This will be one of the main goals of the SGML revision.

Given these three things, I think it's quite likely that grove
implementations will be both provably correct and quite stable for the
foreseable future.


<Address HyTime=bibloc>
W. Eliot Kimber, Senior Consulting SGML Engineer
ISOGEN International Corp.
2200 N. Lamar St., Suite 230, Dallas, TX 75202.  214.953.0004

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