inclusiveness (was "SGML is Gumming Up the Works")

Richard L. Goerwitz III richard at
Sat Sep 12 21:20:11 BST 1998

> > I'm not really mad at XML but, I think "Richard L. Goerwitz III"
> > <richard at> is on to something in wondering if SGML
> > compatibility is going to bring down the XML effort.
> That's not what Richard L. Goerwitz III said. You are projecting your own 
> feelings into his messages.

Just to alleviate the fears of anyone who thinks I'm out to trash SGML com-
patibility, I recently wrote a public validation service optimized specific-
ally for people who are moving SGML documents, along with their associated
DTDs, to XML:

I work in a shop associated with several important text-base projects that
we are doing in SGML.

Yes, in fact I have some deep philosophical disagreements with some of the
ways my own co-workers do things.  And my feeling about SGML is that it in-
curs way too much overhead, especially for small workgroups.

But on the other hand, I don't think the engineering community has been able
to appreciate properly the thought and work that has gone into the way the
SGML crowd operates.  Most American engineers, in particular, don't even
speak a "foreign" language, and most haven't the faintest idea what textual
information (monolingual or not) really is.

So I'm not in either camp, really.

What I believe is that we have the ability here to settle our differences.
I really believe that namespaces offer us a way of providing a migration
path from one schema type to another, if we can find a reasonable way to
associate namespaces with schemas, to type the schemas, and to distribute
validation across multiple namespaces (and maybe also schemas).

This doesn't mean I want everyone to dump DTDs.  Frankly I don't think that
the software engineering community has given them a fair shake yet.  And
loudly proclaiming them dead while running half cocked after other schemas
will only make XML seem unstable - and scare away major vendors we need to
keep our momentum.

On the other end, I don't think it's reasonable for core W3C committee mem-
bers to sit there whining about how foolish the rest of the world is - or
worse yet, simply ignoring us.

Maybe a decent compromise is in order.  The changes I suggest to the name-
space spec are just one possibility.

I am not one of the greater minds here.  I'm sure that with the talent we
have here, people can come up with even better suggestions.

These suggestions, though, should be simple and _inclusive_.

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