Use cases for XML failure (was Re: #2 Re: [SML] Whether to support Attribute or not?)

Gavin Thomas Nicol gtn at
Sun Nov 28 21:35:33 GMT 1999

> >Come up with some use cases where XML simply *cannot* be 
> >deployed in a handheld device [...]
> I don't think functionality is the issue.  The issue is
> complexity, and complexity always comes at a price.
> My primary issues with XML have to do with its focus
> on markup for publishing.  We use XML for data, and
> the XML spec forces XML-for-data engines to support
> XML-for-publishing requirements (eg. entities). 

I think that this is simply not true. It's like saying that
XML forces you to support arbitrary GI's... which is an ideal,
if impossible task. At the end of the day, *every* application
has application-level constraints on the full capabilities
of the underlying XML system. Use of entities, CDATA sections,
etc. can be handled at that level quite effectively.

> If XML were truly a simple markup language, there
> would be little need for engineers to seek out someone
> else's parser in order to work with XML; writing the 
> parser would be trivial.  I have written an XML parser
> and know that doing so is a long and laborous task.

I have also written a parser, and I agree that some of the
edge cases are a pain. That said, XML parsers are, and will
be, commodity items. I very seldom even use my parser now.

> I am forever answering questions for our employees and
> our customers about why you have to do certain things
> and about why you cannot do others.  This is a huge
> waste of everybody's time; it shouldn't be that hard.

So let's flip this around, and say that we used SML. Do you
think you'd have a *large* reduction in the number of questions?
How about s-expressions? If the XML syntax is so vastly 
unsuited/incomprehensible in the problem domain I 
find it hard to believe that a similar syntax would do 
much to help, or that there wouldn't be a better basic
syntax to use/

How many of your customers try to use external entities?

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