Lotsa laughs

Didier PH Martin martind at netfolder.com
Thu May 27 01:10:25 BST 1999

Hi Lisa,

Lisa said:

I thought that an XML v. 1.0-compliant application needed to be
definable using a DTD (at this point) -- even if you didn't necessarily
write one up for it -- that it *should* be possible to do so for any XML
v 1.0-compliant application syntax. (like SMIL etc.) Is this NOT

Didier says:
Not necessarily. A XML document could be dynamically created from other XML
documents. These XML document parts may have a DTD but the aggregated
document may not. To be XML 1.0 compliant do not _necessarily_ requires a
DTD. Only the rules mentioned in the XML 1.0 recommendation.

Lisa said:

> "Nonstandard" does not mean proprietary.  SAX is not a standard,
> but it is hardly proprietary.

we've been through this already, haven't we?  Nonstandard DOES mean
proprietary, for lack of a better term.  Software is one OR the other,
and then the variations go FROM there.

Didier Says:

I will not teach you English (you are far better than me on this side -
speaking four languages is not alway an advantage - speaking one well is
always). But Nonstandard do _not_ mean proprietary. We can say however, form
the legal point of view that if a document includes copyright notice, it is
proprietary, even if this is a standard. However, this notice may provide
the right to use it, distribute it, etc... It remains that the owner is the
one who published the document copyright notice. All W3C document are
proprietary in the sense that:
a) only a small group of people where involved and no democratic process
asked for example what Luxembourg agrees that this is a standard.
b) all published documents includes a copyright notice and are by the way
W3C property. We only have a the rights that W3C gives us on these
documents. They still are the owners. Try to modify a W3C document, publish
it and see what will happen. legally, W3C can sue you. They are they owners
and the copyright notice explicitly says that _they_ as owners do not
provide you the right to modify the document.
c) Biztalk documents are owned by Microsoft and they provide you the right
to use, distribute etc.. But do not provide you the right to modify the

As we saw this week in several messages, a lot of things are standard even
some toilet devices :-)

So, even if we make fun of it, to say that something is a standard is not so
obvious. The word is used a bit too lightly. Obviously for some ideological
or marketing ends.

Lisa said:
Although proprietary standards can still be freely available -- An
"open, freely available, proprietary standard" would then mean that a
spec is available for anyone to implement (which isn't true yet in the
case of biztalk) - like the way the source code of SAX's libraries is
available to anyone.

or as Chris Lilley defined it:

"Freely available in the sense you can download it and check that
everything is actually documented and that it isn't missing some key
component. And proprietary in the sense that one company controls the
spec and can alter it whenever they see fit."

In that sense David Megginson is the one "company".  In BizTalk's case,
it would be MS - if the process and the specs were indeed to be made

Didier says:
In that sense W3C too. They can modify the specs as they which because they
_own_ the specs. What is W3C: a consortium of companies. What is the legal
status of W3C? (I think, but Chris can correct me if I am wrong, that this
is a non profit corporation). I do not say here that W3C is bad etc... Just
put things in perspective. Both specs are produced by a corporation.
 If however you bring the argument of democracy, I follow you. W3C is more
democratic than Microsoft because a recommendation has to be approved by the
members ( Chris correct me if I am wrong - Is this by a members vote? Do all
members vote for each recommendation). A better democratic (relative if you
think of the Tibetans) standard institution is ISO (the name itself tell it
all) where several countries have to vote. Or a new kind of democratic
process: member's list and their comments which created SAX.
Its then only of considering whose company, individual or institution is
creating the best democratic environment.
The other kind of choice which could conduct to democratic choice is the
market choice. Clients decisions. In this case we speak of de facto standard
(like for instance English as a dominant Web language - but can we say that
English is an international standard?). But a de facto standard may not be a
standard we like :-)

As a friend already said: we should not confound free beer with free speech.


Lisa said:

I really don't want to get into this discussion that can only
immediately go over my head, but I'll go ahead and say that:

1) I thought on this very list the consensus was that, sometimes, RDF
document syntax CAN be specified using a DTD (or is that different from
saying that, sometimes, a DTD could be created for validating RDF

2) Remember, RDF does not necessarily HAVE to be expressed using XML.
It is only one, optional syntax, officially (one of its downsides, yes
in terms of interoperability between implementations?), while BizTalk is
(in theory) an application of XML.  Period.

Didier says:

This is what Guha wants (and I agree with him). As far as I remember, even
when we worked together on the metadata Content Format (and framework - a
project initiated by Apple Research) we made the distinction between the
ontology and the ontology expression language. However, practically, RDF is
tightly connected to XML. I can apply ontology principles underlying RDF in
topic maps ( a ISO standard - boy I used the word standard :-) but the
format will be far from RDF as proposed in the recommendation. I can also
apply RDF ontology principles in MCF (the language we co-developed with Guha
when he was still at Apple research) but this would not be called RDF. Want
it or not, RDF is tightly linked to XML. the attribute/value principle is
not as already present in HTTP headers. Would we express RDF elements in
HTTP headers formats? noo we would be taxed to use a non standard way to
express schemata :-)

Lisa said:
> > Why doesn't MS use the closest thing it can to the W3C Schema syntax for
> > now, if it can't wait --rather than an undefined mishmash of two W3C
> > member submissions and one unfinished white paper from almost year ago?
> Maybe they don't understand the current Schema draft yet, not to mention
> it is imcomplete as of now.

Exactly my point though - since BizTalk is obviously incomplete now as
well, and since both things won't be done 'till 3rd quarter 99 anyway --
why not develop them in conjunction with each other.  Or MS could just
wait until the Schema syntax is ready, so as not to fragment the market
ahead of time.  (oops!  i forgot that that was the whole objective :-)

Didier says:

I agree with you Lisa, Biztalk is incomplete and the two documents needs
more work (alleluia, we stopped bitching now let's speak of the real
things). Here is the main problem to resolve (I hope we will focus on this
problem - if we make dissection on some of us we'll see that the brain area
dedicated to Microsoft bitching increased like a cancer - health problems
could occurs with usage, like some brain damage :-) So, let's put the energy
on constructive efforts.

we have to assemble several transaction type in a single document. We have
to tell the receiving end that a particular transaction fragment can be
verified for correctness with a document located at a certain location:

<PO> <---- for purchase order
	content here
<catalog> <--- For catalog request :-)
	Content here

So the problem is that today, I do not have a "standard" way of documenting
each document fragment so that this fragment can be validated. DTD could not
be used. If I use a DTD, this has to be associated to each fragment. Not ok
according to the recommendations.

Maybe, the actual way would be to use RDF to define a transaction fragment.
Th RDF document would contain a RDF element for each transaction fragment
element (including parent relationship)

Any idea? I am sure somebody has a good idea on how to resolve the problem
(one with a brain not too damaged by the cancer). If a plausible schema is
found, I'll post it to XML-EDI for discussions. Off course, the whole idea
is to find a construct that we will find as democratic as possible and as
independent of big pockets as possible.

We accuse Microsoft to be fast and try to divide the market. Why let them do
this and why don't we make a proposal. A document co-signed by several
people is maybe as democratic as other documents (if we include the right
copyright notice allowing people to freely use, re-distribute, etc...). This
would be constructive action. Not bitching against Microsoft and doing
nothing but doing something. Volonteers?

Didier PH Martin
mailto:martind at netfolder.com

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