Is XML 1.0 underspecified? (was: Re: CDATA by any other name...)

david at david at
Fri Oct 30 18:59:26 GMT 1998

Michael Kay writes:

 > This whole thread just reconfirms my view, stated a couple of weeks
 > ago, that the current spec is hopelessly informal and we need some
 > PhD student to sit down and produce a version in Z or something
 > similar.

That's probably too harsh.  I am actually quite fond of the XML 1.0
REC, and believe that it has worked for the most part.  There are
certainly some examples of fuzzy thinking -- making the expansion of
external entities optional is the worst example, stemming from a
fundamental confusion between linking and storage -- but many people
have managed to implement reasonably-interoperable XML tools quickly
and easily using the REC in its current state.  Some cleanup is
required, but that's inevitable with a 1.0.

 > Incidentally, if we want to be picky (and we do), a corrollory of the first
 > assertion above is that a parser (read XML processor) is not required to
 > distingush the data it is passing to the application because the XML-REC
 > says it must, from data that it's passing to the application because it's
 > having a bad day.

Presumably, the application would be able to distinguish, since the
application writer would know (for example) that comments are optional
while character data is required.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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