Standalone documents as external parsed entities.

Alan Kennedy alank at
Tue Apr 13 03:02:59 BST 1999

James Tauber wrote:
> There are ways around it. But for starters, be careful with the term
> "standalone" as it means something quite specific in XML (and something
> different from what I'm guessing you mean by it).

Thanks James. 

I actually had already started down the path of option number two that
you suggested, i.e. using "wrapper" documents, with DTDs, to refer to
external entities, w/o DTDs, that contain the actual document. I need a
DTD on these documents because I need to constrain their structure. I
was hoping there was a better way, since this doubles the number of
documents I have to manage, but it appears there isn't.

I consider this to be a shortcoming of XML, in that it is not
"orthogonal", i.e. I have to write my documents in one of two different
ways, depending on how they're going to be used.

A better solution, I believe, would be to take a more "object-oriented"
approach, i.e. that each document is responsible for it's own validity,
through the use of its own DTD. This would require a parser that could
handle recursively nested documents, each with their own DTD. Although I
could adopt such a non-standard solution here in my own environment, and
produce HTML for publication, I couldn't publish the XML/XSL, since the
documents would be non-standard and unreadable by anyone else.

I keep hearing that XML is a "data" language, as opposed to a "document"
language, but I think that this is one case where XML breaks widely
accepted data modelling norms, i.e. type encapsulation.

Thanks all,


P.S. James, after I sent that mail, I realised that my documents are not
actually standalone (in XML terms), since they refer to an external DTD,
so I used the term incorrectly. But, then I realised they could actually
be standalone, by making all of the necessary declarations in the
internal subset, and the problem would still be the same.

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