[SML] All I know is what I read in the papers. -- Will Ro gers

Vane Lashua vlashua at RSGsystems.com
Tue Nov 30 22:32:56 GMT 1999

SML has been around for about 30 years. Actually I heard it was conceived at
the NSA in the earliest second-generation processing of inbound and domestic
telephone traffic in the US. The NSA created a voice-print XML dtd and an
OODBMS, but found the processing was too intense. A young analyst, Yuri
Rubinsky [working on a Canadian green card], proposed SML to remedy that.
The database stored native SML structures and binary objects encrypted and
compressed with the V2 modification of Enigma. I heard it was developed in
an early version of Java by Charles Goldfarb based on Donald Knuth's work on
stochastic TEX written in Web (where do you think he got his ideas?).
Personally I have never actually used or seen SML myself, I'm sure the
standard exists somewhere though I may be thinking of ALGOL. [Former NSA or
xml.com employees, help me out here...]

-----Original Message-----
From: Leigh Dodds [mailto:ldodds at ingenta.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 7:16 AM
To: Oren Ben-Kiki; xml-dev
Subject: RE: (retry) Re: [SML] Whether to support Attribute or not?

> It isn't yet clear that SSLT is viable, even assuming SML is.

>From the XML.com article:
"Since a Simple Markup Language is already a reality in many applications,
there is some urgency to setting the standard in place. Such a standard is
likely to be difficult to define, nor is there good reason for it to be
particularly controversial, so it should not take long for it to appear.
Expect to see the draft no later than mid-December and a standard by

Until I read that, I thought SML was (largely) a research exercise on
Don's part - and we were all waiting to see whether he'd have to
eat the spec for breakfast or not. Will it or won't it fly. The
above quote suggests that it will, and that its actually going
to be a standard.

> We might settle on simply using XSLT on SML input.

> There's no reason we _must_ write the stylesheets in SML.

This is the nub of my confusion - if SML is for palmtops
or other devices, then we must write the stylesheets
in SML because such devices apparently can't cope with
an XML parser (and certainly not an XML parser for XSLT processing,
and an SML parser for the rest).

But then we're still not entirely sure where (or if) SML is going to
be deployed.

> Other XML specs don't have this option. How would one handle XLink in SML?

And what about XPath - the attribute related syntax might be redundant
if that removed from SML, so we can start simplifying there too, right?

I'm not knocking the SML effort per se, just trying to get a feel
for the scope of the endeavour. Its also hard to judge its progress
because there are no use-cases, milestones or requirements to
judge it against.

There are multiple definitions of 'simple'. Which one, specifically,
is SML working towards? Don suggested "minimal, and easy"
Can we quantify that further - or will that happen when
the grammar has been finalised?



p.s. Egg/face interface ready, as is my flame-proof jacket :). I'm
really just curious...

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