Feeling good about SML

Sean Mc Grath digitome at iol.ie
Tue Nov 16 12:06:22 GMT 1999

[Don Park on SML]
>To this end, I think we should now move to discussion on how we might
>proceed.  One suggestion I have is that we should keep this discussion
>within XML-DEV as long as possible.  The reason is that the amount
>of readily available expertise in XML-DEV is simply staggering and I
>believe we will benefit from it as we progress.

I think there is a step before SML which -- if it went well --
might even remove the need for SML:

1) Tie down what the bifurcation areas that cause XML
interoperability problems and allow people to throw
the phrase "XML parser" around with wild abandon.
e.g. external subset processing, external entity references,
Unicode encoding(s) supported, location information, etc. etc.

For arguments sake, lets call this the XML Feature Manifest

2) Tie down a syntax -- presumably canonical XML -- to
store XFM.

3) XML parser writers would be encouraged to provide
an XFM so that humans and programs alike can determine
what the parser does and does not support.

4) XML Document Creators would be encouraged to
tack an XFM onto their document collections so
that humans and programs alike can determine
what XML features the document-set requires.

I see this as nothing more than codifying existing
practice. There are lots of parsers that claim
to be XML parsers but when you look closely they
don't do X,Y and Z per the specification.

I am as guilty as anyone of saying things
like "Python has N XML parsers" and "my app. is
fully XML compliant" when in reality there are
well defined areas of doubt and uncertainty in
those seemingly definitive statements.

I don't know to what extent this overlaps
with Simon St. Laurent because I cannot
connect to his site right now. Sorry.

Anyway, there is nothing new in the world.
What we have here is the "SGML Declaration"
concept revisited but on a much smaller


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