A call for reason

Thomas B. Passin tpassin at idsonline.com
Tue Nov 30 13:34:18 GMT 1999

Don Park wrote:
> ...
> Lately, I have been trying to gain a different perspective
> by thinking what if SML was here first and XML was actually
> SML 2.0?  This line of thinking adds a rather interesting
> appreciation of attributes.
> ...
> Don Park

I'm starting to like Don's thinking here.  What a neat idea!  But there is
one thing against the notion, which probably is responsible for  a lot of
the desire for an SML.  XML has got some historical baggage.  If it were
really SML 2.0, SML 1.0 would have had the same baggage.  But it seems that
the baggage is what people want to eliminate.

Entities are an example.  You could replace <, &, and the rest with
some escape mechanism (like the backslash, I don't mean CDATA), and get rid
of all other entity types.  That would probably simplify things.  But then
you aren't a subset of XML anymore.  On the other hand, if you omit DTDs,
you could still be a subset.  I don't sense a consensus on the importance of
being a subset of XML, but I don't think things can really go anywhere until
this is pretty well settled (to first order, anyway).  Look at the number of
arguments about attributes that are being posted.  The people who actually
write parsers have been saying that there is virtually no cost in memory or
complexity to having attributes.  There's obviously a lot of people who find
them useful.  I think that anyone who sees an attribute in HTML for the
first time understands how to use them and their syntax.  It doesn't confuse
anything to have attributes. So leave them in and move on!


Tom Passin

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