What Clean Specs Achieve

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at simonstl.com
Sat Feb 6 19:25:30 GMT 1999

At 06:44 PM 2/6/99 +0000, Mark Birbeck wrote:
>But don't tell me that someone using Office 2000 to write a letter to
>their bank manager needs to understand namespaces. 

You're right. They don't need to know, and most likely, they don't want to.

Unfortunately, lots of people between that user and the namespace spec do
need to know how to provide reliable and efficient namespace-aware

I'd like to think that you don't need to have Microsoft's resources to
process a specification and produce reliable and efficient software.  XML -
even namespaces - isn't exactly rocket science.  If you're willing to hit
your head against the specs for a few months, which I do for a living, it
becomes clear that none of this stuff is really as psychotically
complicated as it seems at first.  

The cost of hitting your head against the specs can be prohibitive,
however, if you're a small organization without extensive resources.  More
complex specs mean that you have to spend more resources comprehending
those specs, wasting time that could have been better spent coding.

Writing clean specs, clear specs, intelligible specs, helps everyone who
needs to implement them, as well as the few users who straggle all the way
to the specs to find out exactly why things work the way they do.  It may
not have a direct impact on the Office 2000 user, but it certainly could
affect the choices they have among tools for processing and managing those
documents beyond the Office 2000 software itself.

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