Letting well-formedness slip: was A milestone in XML

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at simonstl.com
Mon May 17 18:33:54 BST 1999

At 05:08 AM 5/17/99 +0000, Jonathan Eisenzopf wrote:
[re: CDF]
>Of course, Matt's correct and I don't think we should back 
>down on pressing the issue. It does beg the question, what 
>to do with older parsers and XML files? Check the declaration 
>before parsing or just ignore and let it fail? As long as it's 
>not built into the parser one can easily handle the uppercase 

CDF isn't going to go anywhere further unless they clean up their code and
become 'genuine' XML.  A key part of XML's infrastructure is that any XML
document should work in any XML parser, and the only parser I'm aware of
that provides 'legacy' compatibility for CDF's approach is Microsoft's.
(DataChannel may have inherited it.)

Microsoft could post a simple CDF-fixer application, change their examples,
push 'real' XML syntax for CDF.  I haven't seen this yet, though I'd
certainly welcome it.

The point of XML is not to accomodate ideas Microsoft had while XML was
still in development - the point of XML seems to be to create a format that
different programs on different platforms can always read reliably.
Accomodating Microsoft's 'goof' is a hassle for parser designers and
application designers, and it seems much more reasonable for Microsoft to
recommend that people change their CDF from the old format (which only
works in MS-land) to 'true' XML, which will work in both MS-land and the
rest of the XML universe.

Pre-processing information that's supposed to be XML already before feeding
it to the parser doesn't seem like an especially good use of resources, to
say the least, and mangles the parser component architectures already in
widespread use.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Building XML Applications (June)
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