Profiling and Packaging XML

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Mon Nov 15 13:28:43 GMT 1999

It seems like everyone has their own list of favorite features in XML, as
well as a list of features whose inclusion in XML they consider heretical.
(The W3C, for instance, doesn't seem very happy about processing
instructions, based on some statements in things like the style sheet PI

Since the SGML declaration was first against the wall (mostly an excellent
thing), we don't have any way whatsoever to indicate that features are
required, optional, or prohibited.  We don't even have a way to indicate
that documents might, for instance, require validating parsers to avoid
losing the 99.9% of their content that happens to reside in external
resources.  (I've done a lot of work on this in XML Processing Description
Language, XPDL, at, but figure my work will
show up in some other project at best.)

It sounds like the W3C is pondering XML packaging in round III of the XML
Activity.  Might this be a good time to discuss what kinds of information
we'd like to see in those packages?  Does profiling seem like a useful
tool?  It seems like it might allow developers to specify rules like 'no
external entities', 'no PIs', and 'no namespaces' for particular
applications, and let us all have our opinions but not necessarily inflict
them on everyone else's parsing.

(I suspect that everyone will actually continue to use XML 1.0 parsers
rather than write their own, but I don't think that reduces the need for
documenting such profiles.)

Phew!  A week away from XML-dev.  Lots of messages, almost all of them

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
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