Why SAX needs namespace support

len bullard cbullard at hiwaay.net
Fri Jan 29 02:24:34 GMT 1999

David Megginson wrote:
> len bullard writes:
>  > <aside>Has anyone created a list of the top characteristics of an
>  > application make it most amenable to using markup?  We've tossed
>  > around parts of this on this list but I've not seen a thumbnail
>  > version one could give to a manager that "they will
>  > understand".</aside>
> Here are some, off the top of my head:
> 1. Need to work outside of a closed system.
> 2. Need to work across different hardware and software platforms.
> 3. Need to capture and save information snapshots.
> 4. Need to pass hierarchical information among components.
> 5. Need to have control over granularity of information.
> 6. Need to use information for different purposes.
> 7. Need to develop a single hub format for conversion.
> 8. Need to generate and test data easily (look how clear-text
>    protocols like SMTP and HTTP won the world).
> 9. Want that cool web buzz.

Cool.  A few more which are variations but important 
particularly where you find all or most of them in one 
or a family of applications:

1.  Data needs an archival form that survives obsolescence 
(eg, health care, public safety).

2.  Data exists in a pipeline that moves up and between 
multiple organizations (eg, health care, public safety).

3.  Data exists in a pipeline where the rate of accrual/population 
is high (eg, health care, public safety).

4.  Data is created in a process that expands in scope 
and aggregates by unanticipated discovery of new relationships 
(eg. health care, public safety).

After two decades of SGML, I am still astounded by how little 
information owners know or understand about the effects of 
the processes by which they create, maintain and disseminate 
information, and how much they pay others to know that for them. 
>From top to bottom of the US Government, for example, they still 
buy relational data by the ream and can't figure out why 
validatible deliveries cost so freaking much, or why 
the vendor charges so much for data conversion, they decline 
to purchase the service (which is PRECISELY the vendor's 
point).  Only an idiot signs up for this kind of task 
knowing that there aren't any enforceable data standards 
and what awaits them is an ASCII-delimited dump of partially 
matching fields and datatypes.  Even at high consulting 
rates, it is a loser.

I was sitting in a West Coast manager's office of Unisys a few 
years ago discussing WHY one might want a true SGML-aware 
browser (BeforeXML).  The counter argument of the day was "HTML does 
it all and MS will provide anything we need".  When I presented 
the argument that validatible object properties minus 
behaviors was an attainable goal, he stopped in mid sentence 
and said; "Damm.  We've tried for years to make money off of 
object-oriented stuff and lost our shirts.  You say this 
works better than objects or relational dbs?"  

"No," I said. "It simply doesn't care which one you use, who 
sells it to you, or if they go out of business or want you to."

That he bought.


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