Feeling good about SML

David Brownell david-b at pacbell.net
Mon Nov 22 06:10:13 GMT 1999

Michael Champion wrote:
> Without DTDs, we wouldn't have to argue about whether they are useless or
> not.  Without external parsed entities, we wouldn't have to argue about
> whether they are evil or not.  Without CDATA sections, we wouldn't have to
> argue about whether they are mere syntactic sugar or whether they have some
> semantic content. Without PIs, we wouldn't argue about whether the XML
> declaration is a PI or not ... Without Notations, nobody would ask what they
> are and what they're good for.

Of course, the pragmatists among us could say "just use the darn
tool and stop arguing, so there won't be any arguments" ... ;-)

> Obviously all these things have their uses and users who depend on them.
> Don's not asking those people to stop using them (or arguing about them). He
> is challenging us to figure out if -- in the light of real-world
> experience -- they have proved their worth as *fundamentally necessary*
> components of XML.

As folk have pointed out, pointy brackets aren't "fundamentally necessary"
and LISP S-Expressions are _at least_ as powerful ... with a much richer
and more powerful set of programming systems and traditions behind them.

So a "fundamentally necessary" argument is not at all convincing to me.
Almost anything can be removed in the right situation.

On the other hand ... just removing <!DOCTYPE ...> declarations and
everything associated with them would be a _simplifying_ move, and in
many cases simplification is good.  The question then becomes exactly
which of the N schema systems merits the World Domination 2K prize.

And we all know schemas are never going to lead to any arguments, and
every one of the mechanisms proposed in every one of the schema languages
to date is in the "fundamentally necessary" group of features, yes?  ;-)

- Dave

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