external parsed entites (was: A unique ID question ?)

G. Ken Holman gkholman at CraneSoftwrights.com
Thu Nov 11 15:31:44 GMT 1999

At 99/11/10 23:27 -0600, Len Bullard wrote:
>G. Ken Holman wrote:
> > I need them when I need to handle *one* XML file in *many* small manageable
> > pieces ... I don't need them for re-use or for sharing, but they provide a
> > useful convenience.
>Cost questions:  does the feature
>1.  Add cost to implementation?

I haven't written an XML processor, so I can't comment on that.

>2.  Add complexity to information handling

No, it simplifies the handling of my information by allowing me to handle a 
large file in small chunks.

My XSLT/XPath book is written in XML.  For downstream processing of the PDF 
it needs to be one large contiguous instance.

For editing, I have every individual lesson (each between one and 10 frames 
in length) in individual external parsed entities.  The entirety is over 
300 printed pages ... I don't want to pull all of that into my editor to 
work on a single lesson.

>is the
>convenience worth the overhead?

The convenience is worth a lot to me.

>they are good for managing small chunks of big
>documents and easy to assemble with tools if one
>is careful in building the entities,

True, but they do enforce correct logical boundaries within physical 
containers, so I see that not a lot of care is needed ... I think they are 
pretty easy to use.

>and knows how one is
>going to use them with other chunks.

Ahhhhhh!  But I don't use them that way.  They aren't designed for reuse.

When I want one of my presentations to use a lesson from another 
presentation, I address that lesson by name and refer to the presentation 
by URI and my assembly process goes and fetches the lesson out of that 
other completely parsed instance at production time.  I'm fetching the 
logical construct within the other complete file.  This way the physical 
boundaries of files in the lessons are immaterial (thus, they cannot 

I do *not* use external parsed entities for an information sharing scheme 
... I use any one external parsed entity as a convenience in only one 
instance and don't "use them with other chunks".

It is this convenience and functionality that I don't want to disappear.

Yes, I can understand those who don't want to give users enough rope to 
hang themselves, but I don't think we can legislate all barriers to 
abuse.  Certainly it behooves us who work with this technology to preach 
that external parsed entities are unacceptable for fragment reuse (thank 
you, Eliot, for doing so publicly), but if people won't listen, is that the 
design's fault?  Does the feature *have* to disappear?

............... Ken

G. Ken Holman                    mailto:gkholman at CraneSoftwrights.com
Crane Softwrights Ltd.             http://www.CraneSoftwrights.com/x/
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