[SML] Data Markup Language?

Joe Lapp jlapp at webmethods.com
Mon Nov 29 01:05:24 GMT 1999

Okay, I know this is going to be a hot one.  Please be nice, as I'm only
testing the waters.

Mixed content probably has a place in XML that marks up human-readable
prose, but I have not yet seen it used in my space, where data is
machine-sourced and machine-consumed.  If you're going to give mixed
content to a machine, you'd better assume that the machine won't make sense
of the unlabelled text (or non-explicitly labelled text).  If you want
something to use the data, you better put a label on it.

Given that general entities and comments and such are (possibly) necessary
in the XML-for-publishing space, is it safe for us to assume that SML is
for marked up data only?  Perhaps the use of SML-for-data will so
significantly dwarf the use of SML-for-publishing that maximum benefit can
be gained by excluding the requirements of publishing.

Besides, you could always emulate mixed content such as...

  <x>I'm <evil-term>mixed</evil-term> content.</x>

By writing...

  <x><text>I'm <text><evil-term>mixed</evil-term><text> content.<text></x>

Everything is explicitly labelled.  One additional benefit is that users
would be free to introduce whitespace between elements without worrying
about changing the semantics of the document.

If we decide that SML is for data and not for publishing, should we then
rename SML to Data Markup Language (DML)?  The real answer to this question
depends on the audience that is interested in SML, I think.  So it would
probably be sufficient to refute my suggestion by having a large enough
group of people express interest in SML for publishing.

Joe Lapp              (Looking for some good people to help design
Senior Engineer        and build the Internet's business-to-business
webMethods, Inc.       XML infrastructure.  We are 100% Java.)
jlapp at webMethods.com           http://www.webMethods.com

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