XML Editors - Word 2000??
philipnye at freenet.co.uk
Tue Jun 29 11:55:53 BST 1999
I don't see why a user entering data into an XML document (leave aside
editing the DTD for now) should need to be aware of the syntax of tags
at all. Many document aplications including spreadsheets,
wordprocessors, databases and even file browsers have some sort of
outlining mode or tree view which could be fairly easily extended to
automatically (from the DTD) provide a choice of allowable tags and
attributes to be associated at each outlining level. There are some
questions with complicated content models over how much on-the fly
validation can be done and how much needs to be deferred but the rest
would be straightforward and the user interface could be fairly
intuitive to a lot of people who have no concept of what XML means.
Another model more familiar to database type applications would involve
entering data into forms which change dynamically to reflect the choices
I could also envisage visual techniques which would create or modify a
DTD similar to those used in many database applications for creating
database structures and layouts.
Finally for those using XML purely as "HTML mkII" the same sort of web
authoring tools remain.
As XML documents move into the mainstream I am sure these programs will
emerge. However, just as you can create a table in a wordprocessor or in
a spreadsheet or in a database and probably save them all in DBF format,
I would think that the idea of a generic XML editor will fade as the
format/language moves away from computer professionals to wider
adoption. Why expect one tool to handle the whole range of uses for XML?
"Steven Livingstone, ITS, SENM" wrote:
> I have had a look at a few editors now.
> One thing that (at least the ones I have looked at so for) is common in them
> is the XMl Notepad look - i.e. A line with a couple of tags and space to
> insert your text.
> To me it seems that this is pretty much the only way you could do this, but
> feedback I have had from people not knowledgeble about XML is that they
> don't consider them serious editors (although I happily work with them).
> What other methods do/are XML editors using to make it very much easier for
> users. I imagine some intelligent package which knew where you were in a
> particular document and, working with a DTD, could provide you with a list
> of possible tags which could be applied and relevent attributes (if these
> apply). Of course the DTD would have to be provided as a template for the
> user (as would any style sheets).
> I expect (hope) that this would allow Content Providers to type as they
> normally would, but give them the power of XML - of course users would have
> to think as they typed (rather than the current 86,000 w.p.m that they do
> Is such a things available yet or in the pipleline?
> Steven Livingstone
> President, AIP Scotland.
> ceo at citix.com
> Join Association of Internet Professionals - http://www.citix.com/aip
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Marcus Carr [SMTP:mrc at allette.com.au]
> > Sent: 29 June 1999 00:57
> > To: Ketil Z Malde
> > Cc: xml-dev at ic.ac.uk
> > Subject: Re: XML Editors - Word 2000??
> > Ketil Z Malde wrote:
> > > > People who are drafting XML documents such as legislation are not
> > > > working with the structure,
> > >
> > > So they don't know about paragraphs, or references I take it?
> > Wow, you are grumpy. Do I really need to rephrase that sentence?
> > > If you insist that people bright enough to work with legislation are
> > > too stupid to grok the simple context of tags, I would suggest you
> > > underestimate them. Of course they won't understand it if you do your
> > > best to hide structure behind formatting.
> > It's not a matter of intelligence, it's a matter of focus. If you're
> > paying
> > a lot of money to obtain someone's expertise about the law, it's not
> > practical (and may even be financially foolish) to pay them to fiddle
> > around
> > with tags. What would you say to the legal expert who said that anyone
> > smart
> > enough to understand XML tagging should be capable of writing legislation?
> > Why do we assume that just because we have a need for XML data, all sorts
> > of
> > different professions are going to accommodate us at their own expence?
> > > My experiences with those tools are kind of mediocre - that could of
> > > course be due to being exposed to SGML first, and the tools later.
> > > The problem is that the tools focus on the wrong end of the problem -
> > > how the document looks when printed on paper - instead of on what the
> > > document *is*.
> > I'm not saying that it's the right way to go in all cases, just that I'm
> > sick of having people ask if they can author in Word and me telling them
> > they have to use MultiEdit or Emacs. They don't want to hear it and I
> > don't
> > want to say it. There is a strong correlation between what a document
> > looks
> > like on paper and what it is - as paper publishing is still inevitable in
> > some industries, they are often nearly the same thing. It won't work
> > maintaining that I've been suckered by applications - my experience in
> > SGML
> > predates any WYSIWYG tools by many years and even now I use MultiEdit over
> > any application. Years of banging my head against the wall have cured me
> > of
> > the urge to persist with that as a solution for clients (and left me with
> > a
> > near-constant ringing in my ears...)
> > > Actually, forms for entering database records is much closer to what
> > > I'd like for SGML input. I like XEmacs and the psgml-based html-mode;
> > > on loading a document with the .html extension, the user is prompted
> > > for a title, and presented with a buffer containing a rough framework
> > > of an HTML document, something like
> > >
> > > <!DOCTYPE blah blah>
> > > <html>
> > > <head>
> > > <title>your title here</title>
> > > </head>
> > > <body>
> > > <h1>your title here</h1>
> > > (some empty lines)
> > > <hr>
> > > (some signature stuff, last change and a mailto: link)
> > > </body>
> > > </html>
> > >
> > > You don't have to be a genius to work that one out. And this is
> > > considered difficult and obscure. If somebody is remotely familiar
> > > with the editor, it's about three minutes to explain where to put what
> > > information, and why, and off you go - and the built in parser
> > > restricts you to the valid elements and attributes at any point in the
> > > document.
> > Wunderbar! And you get valid HTML out the other side, you say? Have you
> > tried modifying it for DocBook? Ironically, FrameMaker+SGML will allow you
> > to edit your data in a visual tree-based interface, though I don't think
> > much of it personally.
> > I find it interesting that you are looking for an application that will
> > help
> > you create good data, but apparently begrudge others the same thing. Your
> > preferred interface involves the use of raw tags; I'm maintaining that
> > some
> > others may want even more help. I use MultiEdit - by your logic, I should
> > be
> > running you down for looking for a guided syntax editor. It doesn't have
> > to
> > be ugly to create correct data.
> > > The point is that if all you see is italics vs. normal, and you know
> > > about a button which gives you italics, then that button is what
> > > you're going to press. Sure, people may mistake the meaning of tags,
> > > but they are a) restricted in what context they may appear, and b)
> > > labeled with (hopefully something more meaningful than typographical
> > > information, and c) supplied with a helpful comment in the DTD, which
> > > the editor can display.
> > I think you're considering users in too narrow a band - they aren't all
> > bereft of any understanding about structure. They always understand what
> > you're trying to achieve, they just want it to be easy for them to use. An
> > application is an interface to the structure that doesn't interfere with
> > the
> > content. An application designer is the one that tries to ensure that both
> > objectives are satisfied.
> > > > There aren't that many ways of assisting users with element usage,
> > > > but one of the main ones might be requiring validity over
> > > > well-formedness at the authoring stage and do a good job of the
> > > > analysis.
> > >
> > > Of *course* you should require validity. What else would be the point
> > > of using SGML? If you want formatting oriented documents with
> > > no guarantee of correctness, it's not hard to find.
> > You're mixing up what I'm saying - well-formedness doesn't equate to
> > format
> > oriented documents and the subject still says "XML Editors". I'm saying
> > that
> > validity allows you to guide the user by restricting the available
> > elements
> > whereas well-formed doesn't.
> > --
> > Regards,
> > Marcus Carr email: mrc at allette.com.au
> > ___________________________________________________________________
> > Allette Systems (Australia) www: http://www.allette.com.au
> > ___________________________________________________________________
> > "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
> > - Einstein
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