Colonialism, SAX, Java, and Namespaces

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Fri Feb 5 17:57:02 GMT 1999

At 06:12 PM 2/5/99 +0100, Ronald Bourret wrote:
>I don't think Simon is asking for simpler technology.  I think he's asking 
>for more explanatory writing in the specs.  Precision is almost impossible 
>to achieve in spoken languages -- there is always somebody clever or 
>foolish enough to "misinterpret" the most basic words -- and so the 
>question is whether you write a short, highly formal spec, interpret it 
>afterward, and hope that everybody hears/understands you, or write a 
>longer, perhaps less formal spec, interpret it place, and hope you don't 
>introduce inconsistencies and ambiguities, or go somewhere in between.

Precisely.  Taking the time and making the effort to ensure that
specifications are clear - and not just to a small community of experts -
means a lot less need for repeated explanation afterward.  It makes a
specification more inclusive, avoiding the need for debates over who is
worthy of reading the spec.  

That inclusiveness can encourage more people to join the implementation
process, and produce richer yields of new ideas and real source code - and
less debate about non-normative sections and the impossibility of figuring
out formal specifications.

Extending that inclusive approach to the larger discussions also promises
to have significantly more benefits than raining down comments telling
developers that the specifications (and by implication, XML) really aren't
meant for them, that they shouldn't be reading those things, and they
certainly shouldn't be complaining about them.  Being inclusive takes extra
effort, but it hardly stands in the way of clear or useful standards.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Building XML Applications (March)
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