What is a document?

Didier PH Martin martind at netfolder.com
Mon Nov 22 14:58:00 GMT 1999


Continuing the reflection on biztalk like XML formats, a question occurred
in my mind: In a biztalk like message, what is the document?

Hypothesis 1
The biztalk message is the document. Your content included in the biztalk
message is a fragment.

Hypothesis 2:
The content is the document. The biztalk element is an envelope.

We want to provide the message rendition for human consumption. Thus, the
biztalk message is set for automated agents on both sides. However, we want
to provide a style sheet with the message so that if a human wants to take a
look at it, it can be rendered with style ;-)

Hypothesis 1 - reasoning:
If the biztalk message is the document, then the style sheet has to be
included at the biztalk message level. But the real content and the part
control by the sender is the fragment contained in the biztalk message. So,
the biztalk processor may do the following if the sender included a style
sheet in the fragment.
a) remove the style sheet PI from the fragment
b) import the fragment style sheet in its own style sheet.
the two style sheet are merged

Hypothesis 2 - reasoning:
No it does not work without some processing from the biztalk engine because
the scope of action for a style sheet is the whole XML document, not a
fragment. Thus, the biztalk message is the document, not the contained

According to the actual state of the art, only Hypothesis 1 will fly. If we
think of rendition, we have to think of document. If we think about
document, then a biztalk message is also a document. The content (your
message) is only a fragment. In the XML world there is no actual standard
notions of
a) envelope
b) multiple document embedding for transport (each embedded fragment being a
separate entity interpreted by different agents)

Didier PH Martin
mailto:martind at netfolder.com

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