XSL Debate, Leventhal responds to Stephen Deach

Rick Jelliffe ricko at allette.com.au
Tue Jun 22 20:00:45 BST 1999

From: Simon St.Laurent <simonstl at simonstl.com>

>At 01:49 AM 6/23/99 +1000, Rick Jelliffe wrote:

>If you can figure out the meaning and do something with it, machine or
>otherwise, I'd be happy to argue that semantics are present.  Perhaps
>universal, perhaps not convenient enough, but they are indeed present,
>unless you're using a much more restrictive definition of semantics
>I've ever encountered.

Old SGML hacks used semantics to mean any markup not concerned with
abstract labelling, including formatting. RDF people use semantics to
linked to controlled vocabularies.  The usage of "semantics" in neither
communities seems to match your usage, where semantic markup
includes "human-guessable" (presumably primarily to those in a dialect

>Er... isn't generating formatting objects what _XSL_ is all about?
>I'm aware that XSLT will let you generate other vocabularies.)

I don't think I would like to reduce what XML is all about to a single
statement. But I cannot see that it is anywhere about blocking links to
higher-level or original markup in the generated document.

>This approach takes us away from the
>intelligent Web that the seemed to be the goal of the original XML
>development, and puts us in a hell perhaps worse than that already
>by HTML's limited semantics.

Limited meaning-semantics are not solved by labelling, but by linking
to  well-known vocabularies. Like I said, just providing labelled data
does little (except allow better guesswork, I suppose).

>Imagine a table of developers who want to create agents.

Imagine a company that makes money by providing data over the Web;
the data may be freely available but it is their markup that provides
the added value on which they build their company. They might easily
want to provide the public with data in forms that protect their
labelling and semantic investment.  If they think agents will be
good for their customers or business, that should be their choice:
they can generate RDF if they want semantic markup, or just the
vanilla XML if they want to provide only labelled data.

>I'm not the developer of FOP - that's James Tauber. It would indeed be
>strange for him to be saying such things.

Blush...I had just been thinking of him (laughing at the name FOP
actually, I hope antipodeans are not the only ones amused by the name).
Brain spasm from too many Dragon Boats and tonsils here.

Rick Jelliffe

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