A Plea for Schemas

David Brownell david-b at pacbell.net
Wed Nov 3 19:45:17 GMT 1999

Matthew Gertner wrote:
> 	...  many of the pieces of the
> puzzle have been in place only recently (or are still being worked on):
> * The right mindset: until very recently generic markup has been seen as
> primarily useful for documents, where the utility of schemas is
> admittedly limited for anything but authoring applications. The idea of
> using XML as a software engineering tool to model data structures has
> now become very prevalent.

Or at least trendy.  There have been MANY (!) modeling infrastructures
intended to help certain classes of software engineers.  Watching those
tools' progress has led me to my current skeptical stance about other
attempts to deploy such modeling frameworks.  The low level tool used
to represent such models (XML in this example) doesn't matter much; it
is the higher level processes that create problems.

> * Communications infrastructure: Something like an automatic discovery
> mechanism for schemas would not be possible without widespread access to
> a common network infrastructure.

On the other hand, that widespread access can obviate the need
for such an "automatic discovery mechanism" just as easily, since
it enables other alternatives too.  It reduces all kinds of costs.

Near as I can tell, what you seem to be after with the "automatic
discovery" is primarily to make it easier to reuse a schema if that's
what a system designer wants to do.  But it can't make the designer
ignore common motivations like "NIH", "I can do it better", "that's
really not what we need", and the classic "we need a proprietary hook
to lock-in customers".

- Dave

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