Storing Lots of Fiddly Bits (was Re: What is XML for?)

Steven R. Newcomb srn at
Tue Feb 9 00:41:01 GMT 1999

[ Eliot Kimber: ]
> > Or said another way: there's no magic in the DOM (or groves or XML) that
> > will make storing and managing business objects easier.

[ Uche Ogbuji: ]
> I think this is the crux of the matter, and exactly what the "XML is not a 
> universal hammer" folks (myself included) have been trying to get across.

Basically, I agree with these sentiments.

However, I would not want the casual reader to take away from Eliot's
excellent rant the idea that the relationship between objects and
their XML serializations need be entirely arbitrary.  The grove
paradigm permits interchangeable information and ready-to-use objects
to be quite precise, rigorous, and non-arbitrary reflections of one
another.  The exact nature of the relationship between the two kinds
of information can be expressed in an Architecture Definition
Document.  A rigorous Architecture Definition Document ideally

(1) a DTD (the formal description of the interchangeable form of the

(2) a Property Set (the formal description of the ready-to-use objects
    and their relationships to one another), and

(3) natural language text that explains the nature of the relationship
    between the two, if necessary including algorithms that describe
    the transformation between them.

In effect, a Property Set can describe a specialized DOM to the
specialized meanings of a particular class of information assets,
while a DTD can describe the interchangeable form of such assets.

This means that, in those applications of XML in which absolute
precision and uniformity is required in an open, multivendor
environment, and when the high cost of thinking carefully about the
exact nature of the information set being interchanged can be
afforded, there is a very good answer, and there is an internationally
standard way to express and publish the necessary constraints.


Steven R. Newcomb, President, TechnoTeacher, Inc.
srn at

voice: +1 972 231 4098 (at ISOGEN: +1 214 953 0004 x137)
fax    +1 972 994 0087 (at ISOGEN: +1 214 953 3152)

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