Parser compliance

David Megginson david at
Thu Nov 18 02:23:46 GMT 1999

Marcus Carr <mrc at> writes:

> Are you suggesting that we would have done the client a favour by
> disregarding structure and steering them toward a good word
> processor? 

The DTD has two small but important roles in system implementation: as
a partial set of structural validation rules and as a partial schema
for guided authoring (it's nearly always supplemented in both cases).

Unfortunately, SGML consultancies who knew mainly just DTDS and FOSIs
were substituting DTD design for data analysis, domain modelling,
system design, user interface design, and lots of other things for
which DTDs are woefully inadequate.

> It's a bit disingenuous to criticise what was far and away the best
> solution at the time. It was no more or less a money-grab than the
> current market.

DTDs should have been just part of the solution, not *the* solution.
There's nothing special about this -- consultants do the same thing in
other areas as well.  I'm sure many of us have seen a consulting
company spend the entire allotted time for a project (and more)
drawing enormously complicated UML diagrams, and then hand the
diagrams to the customer say "OK, here's your system, now you can
implement it."

In any case, my message was an explanation of why DTDs have been so
heavily hyped, not an attack on the idea of DTDs themselves.  DTDs
were the great Golden Hammer of the SGML consulting world.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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