Simplicity (was Re: Namespaces and DTDs)

Marcus Carr mrc at
Thu Mar 11 02:35:58 GMT 1999

Jarle Stabell wrote:

> It seems to me that the SGML compatibility requirement killed simplicity.
> (And gave a very confusing and hard-to-learn vocabulary)

Really? I think the requirement for web compatibility made XML more complex than it looked
from the outset.

This is the advent of the third catchcry for XML. First it was "XML is SGML", second was "Use
XML because SGML is too hard" and now "XML is very powerful, but can be difficult".
Remarkably, we just now seem to be coming to the realisation that it's difficult to solve
complex problems. XML seeks to do more than SGML, but it's supposed to be simpler - how can
this be so? The only immediate areas of gain would have come from trimming the fat from the
SGML, but the more the X*L I see, the skinner SGML looks. Yes, it is less powerful, yes it can
be more proprietary, yes it is harder to write tools for, no it doesn't solve ten percent of
what X*L can do before it even gets out of bed. Yes, I still use it a lot. Ponder that - SGML
for simplicity.

> I'm hoping that ideas like the Layered Model for XML (by Simon St.Laurent)
> will be able to influence XML in a positive direction, making it simpler to
> understand, use and implement. Today it's way too hard to "fully"
> understand XML.

It is unquestionably hard to fully understand - anyone who says that it isn't deserves a gold
star - they're smarter than I am.


Marcus Carr                      email:  mrc at
Allette Systems (Australia)      www:
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
       - Einstein

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