How CAN one facilitate re-use of XML components? (was Re: External Entities A Field Guide )

Michael Champion Mike.Champion at
Fri Nov 19 16:43:54 GMT 1999

----- Original Message -----
From: W. Eliot Kimber <eliot at>
To: Gavin Thomas Nicol <gtn at>
Cc: <xml-dev at>
Sent: Friday, November 19, 1999 10:28 AM
Subject: Re: External Entities A Field Guide (was RE: Feeler for SML
(SimpleMarkup Language))

> This is my statement and I stand by it. In my experience the at-scale
> use of external parsed entities for re-use has only ever led to pain.

OK, so can I ask the list's opinion on what one CAN do to facilitate the
re-use of XML components produced by different authors or processes?  This
is one thing that XML is *supposed* to do well, if you believe various bits
of hype.

This is a topic that has confused me for years.  I've worked on this problem
from two directions, neither terribly successful.  First from the starting
assumption that the external parsed entity mechanism is too tricky and
fragile to support re-use, so we re-worked an editing/publishing product to
support the non-SGML/XML capabilities of underlying document management
systems here.  That was only partially successful, largely because it was
non-standard and difficult to translate to the diverse capabilities of the
various DMS systems.  The other was to try to more smoothly glue the XML
external entity mechanism onto the underlying repositories.  That was
frustrating and only partially successful for the reasons brought out in
these threads.

So is this something that simply has to be done by "whatever means
necessary" on the server/database side? Can databases or servers that
understand the XML entity resolution mechanism but also have version control
help? Will XLink save the day someday? Does the XML spec have to change (a
la Don's comments about facilitating fragment re-use in SML) to make this
happen, should the support go into some future DOM API, or what?

TIA ...

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