SAX2 RFD: LexicalHandler draft v.1.1

David Megginson david at
Thu Mar 25 11:27:48 GMT 1999

James Tauber writes:

 > The different ways of expressing character data (literal, CDATA
 > section, character references) as well as other things like
 > ignorable whitespace, comments, even physical (ie entity)
 > structure, etc are irrelevant for most applications, but there is
 > the odd application that wants to know about such things. The
 > standard example is an XML editor.

Right, but the fact that *someone* wants something shouldn't
automatical lead to its inclusion in standards.

Standards benefit from the network effect -- their usefulness is
proportional to the square of the number of users -- so there must be
a large potential number of users to justify the extra cost of
developing, publishing, documenting, implementing, and maintaining a
standard.  If we're talking about, say, five or ten potential users,
the network effect just isn't all that exciting.

Standards also grow easily but shrink with difficulty: if in v.1 you
leave out a feature that turns out to be necessary, it is usually not
difficult to include the feature in v.2 once the need for it has been
proven in real use; if in v.1 you include a feature that turns out not
to be necessary (i.e. notations and unparsed entities in XML), then
it sticks to future versions of the spec like gum in your hair.

In any case, please remember that I am not actually proposing removing 
CDATA boundaries from LexicalHandler -- I do want to support the DOM.
I'm just whining and/or drawing lessons.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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