Feeler for SML (Simple Markup Language)

Eric Bohlman ebohlman at netcom.com
Tue Nov 16 06:57:02 GMT 1999

On Mon, 15 Nov 1999, Michael Champion wrote:
> Remember 1995-1997 in the HTML Web ... It saw HTML become its own "world"
> totally distinct from its SGML roots, and it saw numerous incompatible
> variants of HTML proliferate. This could happen again, this time with XML as
> the creaky old "bloated" standard that doesn't fit the needs of the
> fast-moving innovators.  I'm not at all sure that "SML" could prevent that,
> but I see the same complaints about XML and the DOM API (pretty much the
> points that Don made in the original post) again and again among people
> trying to use it in light client or high performance applications.

But the HTML scenario is exactly the opposite of the potential WML
scenario in that the browser manufacturers were creating incompatible
*supersets* of a particular markup language, incompatible not only with
each other but also with the basic framework (SGML) the language was
defined with.  The latter incompatibility was partially the result of SGML
parsers being complex beasts, but even more so because many of the
implementors either didn't know what structural markup was or, as in the
case of Mark Andreesen, knew what it was but were philosophically opposed
to it.  In the wireless scenario, though, the worst case is devices having
parsers that can handle only the particular XML constructs used by the
specific markup languages initially created for those devices; IOW, a
proliferation of non-extensible markup languages.  That's nowhere near as

I've gotten somewhat miffed at the number of people who seem to think that
the DOM is *the* One and Only True Way to access XML documents, and I'm
pretty certain that that particular meme originated in Redmond;
Microsoft's parsers indeed provide nothing else.  Yes, the DOM is too
heavyweight for lots of applications, but we *already* have lighter-weight
APIs; it's just a question of making developers aware of them.  Let's not
try stripping down the *language* in a misguided attempt to deal with the
complexity of a particular *API*.

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