ModSAX: Proposed Core Features (heretical?)

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Mon Mar 15 17:50:45 GMT 1999

While I was at XTech, I had an interesting discussion with a database
developer (whose name I unfortunately have forgotten) who was well, rather
irate about the existence of the internal subset and its ability to make
schemas and validation fairly useless to application development and

Basically, he wanted the ability to check the document structure without
the internal subset, so he could rely on the validation process to make
certain that documents conformed to an 'official' DTD, without extra junk
some twerpy developer put in the internal subset to make his own version
valid if not official.

Without the ability to turn off the internal subset, validation is a pretty
weak gatekeeper for information management.  The worst cases involve DTDs
that use ANY to accomodate officially approved extensibility, but which can
be effectively subverted by anyone with a basic knowledge of XML DTDs.
(Even with this ability, we all know that validation doesn't check
everything.)  Yes, I know that using ANY is asking for trouble, but I also
suspect that it does have real uses.

It may not rank as a core feature, but I suspect in the near future we'll
be seeing:

though it may not appear under as a core feature, of course.

(Maybe the internal subset will disappear in the next round of schemas,
maybe not...)

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer
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