Standards: they're de-jure, they're de-facto, they're de-LOVELY!

David Megginson david at
Tue May 25 19:11:09 BST 1999

Didier PH Martin writes:

 > More and more I am getting confused by the word "standard":

 [... MS, Java, Linux, W3C, ECMA, ISO, etc. ... ]

You left out an weird example -- SAX is a very widely-implemented XML
API, but it has no owner, no organization promoting it, no press
releases, no copyright or terms of usage (it's truly public domain),
and no formalized process for development or maintenance.  (It also
has no proper language-independent spec, but I consider that a bug
rather than a feature, and one for which I take personal

Essentially, donates a little Web space, xml-dev donates
a lot of discussion space, and many companies and individuals donate
the time from the people who help to discuss and develop SAX.  In this
regard, SAX is a lot like Linux, except that Linux is GPL'ed and Linus
now holds the trademark on the Linux name after a nasty squabble with
someone who tried to cash in; SAX is explicitly in the public domain
and not copyrighted, copylefted, or trademarked in any way, and relies
exclusively on peer-pressure and user demand to ensure conformance.

I've never (knowingly) called SAX a 'standard', de facto or de jure.
What *is* it?

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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