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

W. Eliot Kimber eliot at isogen.com
Fri Nov 12 01:18:06 GMT 1999

"G. Ken Holman" wrote:

> 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".

Ken is an example of a well-informed, careful user who understands his
tools and uses them appropriately. He is a professional. He is rare in
that regard.

As Ken points out, when used safely, external unparsed entities are
useful. Just like those eight-foot chainsaws professional lumberers use.

> 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?

I can certainly appreciate this position, but in the XML context, given
that our primary design principle was "simplify", I felt that the loss
of external unparsed entities would have provided a signficant
simplification benefit at a minimal loss of function while forcing
people to come to the understanding that Ken demonstrates above, an
understanding they had, to that point, seemed to be quite unwilling to
come to, for whatever reason.

I suspect that once we have infrastructure that makes working with
complete documents as convenient as working with external parsed
entities that we will see the use of external parsed entities naturally
fall away.



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