(My) Feeling About SML

Leigh Dodds ldodds at ingenta.com
Wed Nov 17 11:02:10 GMT 1999

I've been mulling over this whole SML/XML discussion, trying 
to get things straight in my head, and a decent summary.
I thought I'd share what I've concluded so far.

Heres where I'm at currently:

I'm not sure that parser speed/size is that much of an issue, even 
for handheld devices, and if it is I think thats the sort of 
problem thats likely to disappear quite quickly. Having an alternate 
markup language (SML/WML) is likely to cause problems later which 
are best avoided - limitations in computer processing power tend 
to go away very quickly.

I'm also not convinced about the issues raised about simplifying 
message passing for EDI and/or handhelds - as you can achieve 
this with a suitably specified specification between the parties 
involved. I've posted to this effect already.

So it seems to come down to complexity of the XML spec itself, 
and that its hard to grok all the subtleties. Now this I can 
understand (!) as I don't come from a markup background.
However it seems that this could be largely addressed with simpler APIs, 
and better documentation?

I can also understand that specifying the required (XML) feature 
subset of a document would be useful. Especially if specs start 
appearing which start saying "thou shalt not use ..." - the 
processor will need programmatic access to this information, especially 
if we start to consider compound documents and/or XML fragments.

Again, however this 'required feature subset' is handled, it doesn't 
necessarily mean that the XML 1.0 spec needs revision, it can be 
layered on top of it. Or am I wrong?

An example : We've got some developers here who are starting to get into 
XML development, and I've fielded a few questions - particularly 
regarding well-formedness, validity, and the DOM API. The first 
two were relatively easy to answer. Most of the rest of the 
confusion seemed to be at the (DOM) API level - these developers have 
been given an XML message format spec (which doesn't use any 
XML nastiness) and just need to start writing some code 
against it.

So this leads me to the conclusion that a simplified API, perhaps 
coupled with a means to define the XML feature subset of a schema 
would address 99% of the issues raised thus far.

But I keep getting the niggly feeling that I'm missing something.

Any comments?


    "Never Do With More, What Can Be Achieved With Less"
				---William of Occam
Leigh Dodds                             Eml:  ldodds at ingenta.com
ingenta ltd                             Tel:  +44 1225 826619
BUCS Building, University of Bath       Fax:  +44 1225 826283

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