"Clean Specs"

Liam R. E. Quin liamquin at interlog.com
Sun Feb 7 23:19:06 GMT 1999

Quoth Tim Bray <tbray at textuality.com>
> This group is notably and vocally dissatisfied with the specs, I 
> am watching with attention for concrete suggestions as to how
> to make future specs better - the one premise that seems to get
> consensus, in this group at least, is "more examples".  (Hmm, the
> namespace spec has tons).  

Having just had a book on the XML spec published... I will say that the
spec is one of the better thta I have seen, but that there is still a
lot of scope for improvement.  It was a really difficult process,
and it's easy to forget that at the start, few who were involved in it
expected it to generate the interest and fervour that it has.  There
was no expectation that any aspect of SGML would be changed, either,
although in the end SGML *was* changed.

But there is a problem with expectations, too.

The spec is not an introduction. How many people here learnt C++
by reading the ANSI spec?  How many people here learned to tune a
radio by reading the international specifications for radio
frequency allocation?

Next time, develop tutorials alongside the specs perhaps.

> My own personal take - the XML spec has holes that I'm more deeply
> aware of than anyone in the world, but it's a bearable compromise
> given the combined resource/time/political constraints - and the 
> real-world problems with XML are not the spec itself, but SGML-derived 
> bogosities like parameter entities.
I agree 100%.  Ian and I found lots of minor holes last year (asked about
some here, sent some to the email address for corrections to the spec),
but they are almost all minor.  There are a couple of places where the
wording says the opposite of what's intended, but where no sane person
is likely to read it literally, and that's OK too.

The namespace spec was pretty good last time i looked.

I think it raises whole big looming purple-and-green questions which
I shall try to write about separatesomely.


Liam Quin, GroveWare Inc., Toronto;  The barefoot programmer
l i a m q u i n     at    i n t e r l o g    dot   c o m
SGML/XML/Unix/C consulting and programming

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