SGML the next big thing?

Erlend Øverby Erlend.Overby at
Fri Dec 3 18:04:18 GMT 1999

I think it is time to take a short break, raise the head and have
a look at the XML-landscape.

To me it seems that we are trying to reinvent SGML, but in
a much more complex way.

>From SGML we need the following features.
 - Groves
 - HyTime
 - TopicMaps
 - Subdoc
 - Architectural Forms
 - Public Identifiers

What we don’t need from the SGML standard:
 - SGML Declaration
 - Character entities
 - Minimisation
 - The "&" construct

Getting rid of these "features" will make it much easier to
process and implement systems based on SGML.

>From XML we need the following features:
 - Unicode
 - /> for empty elements
 - The concept of well formed
 - XSL

I would like to try to show how some of the features from SGML coul
be used:

Architectural forms:
To be able to exchange information in a proper manner, the
industry has to agree on a Architecture (Common DTD). This will
avoid the need for transformations between different DTDs, since
the information is based on the same architecture.

This could be used to inform the processor about what kind of
information this is. It could be of type MathML, Chemical Markup,
HTML, TIFF etc. Or the information should be processed after
the ISO8601 DATE specifications etc.

Just to give an idea.

It is time to combinate the best from SGML and XML.

Today XML is too simple; it lacks several important features needed
in a structured information environment. By combining the best from
SGML and XML we will have a new working standard. This new
combination should be the preferred platform for everyone who work
with structured information, documents or data.

The best XML has done for the information community is the
awareness of structured information, and how important this is for
the business case. Now it is time to sell SSGML
(Simplified Standard Generalized Markup Language) :-)

Btw: Charles Goldfarb did not invent SGML, he discovered it :-)

Erlend Øverby

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which
is probably the reason why so few engage
in it.
                                  (Henry Ford)

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