ATTN: Please comment on XHTML (before it's too late)

W. Eliot Kimber eliot at
Sun Aug 29 21:18:43 BST 1999

David Megginson wrote:

> You and I, Paul have seen too many worthy specs fail completely
> because of superfluous complexity -- HyTime, Topic Maps, and DSSSL
> (and Architectural Forms) spring immediately to mind, but they hardly
> stand alone. 

This is pure flame bait and has no place in this discussion. In what
sense have architectures or HyTime failed? In what sense have they
failed completely? David is *at this moment* working on project in which
HyTime and architctures are being used to good effect. I use HyTime and
architectures in everything I do. TechnoTeacher has developed a robust
commercial system that implements HyTime and architectures
(GroveMinder).  Have these uses achieved the same breadth of acceptance
that something like HTML has? No. Does that mean they are failures? No. 

Success and failure must be measured against suitability for
requirements, not number of documents or number of users or number of
seats. By that measure, all these standards are successful to one degree
or another.  They all meet their stated requirements, they have all been
successfully implemented and used to solve real business problems. So
have HTML and XML and, for that matter, name spaces.

Would I like to see HyTime used more widely? Yes. Do I think it will
take at least as long as other similarly complex and powerful systems
took to get wide acceptance (about 10 years)? Yes. Am I worried about it
not happening? No.

While I certainly agree with David that *unnecessary* complexity should
be avoided, it is a gross oversimplication to suggest that complex
standards are failures simply because they are complex. HyTime is not
complex for the sake of simplicity, it is complex because it solves
complex problems. Will everyone need all that complexity? No. But when
you do, there's a solution there.

So no more talk about "failed" standards. I'm happy to talk about
*shortcomings* of any of these standards--I'm probably as painfully
aware of them as anybody. But having flaws is not the same as having

By this logic, the Space Shuttle would be a failure because there are
only four of them while there are thousands of commercial jets and tens
of thousands of much simpler small airplanes.



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