an unfilled need

Dan Brickley Daniel.Brickley at
Mon Sep 6 19:21:39 BST 1999

On Mon, 6 Sep 1999, Matthew Gertner wrote:

> > But what would it discover?  Stylesheets can already tell you how
> > <foo> should be rendered in a browser.  What other kind of information
> > could reasonably be discovered in the general case besides structural
> > validation rules and possibly simple data-typing?  Neither of those is
> > going to tell my application much about <foo> if it doesn't know about
> > <foo> already.
> Wasn't this exactly the point of Jon Bosak's by-now-classic paper about XML and Java? Maybe
> this has been generally written off as shameless promotion of Sun's interests, but if so this
> seems like a shame to me, since the idea is absolutely brilliant. There should be a way to
> associate tags with Java classes (and preferably a generic mechanism that at least opens up
> the possibility of associating them with code of any kind). The class in question could be
> determined in a number of ways (stylesheet, schema, whatever) and would then consume the
> contents of the element, doing something useful. The nice thing about general-purpose
> programming languages is that this something could be absolutely anything.

While having a mechanism for relating classes (eg.
java:com.goodwebguide.rating) with Web namespaces
(eg. would doubtless be handy,
this just punts the hard problem into a different arena. Instead of
software agents puzzling over what arbitrary XML data structures might
be telling us, or useful for, they'll be puzzling over what arbitrary
Java bean components can do for us. Mapping into beans is interesting
(eg. we for example get the notion of get/set'able bean properties),
but without taxonomies of java class behaviours, we're just as lost
when dealing with an unknown java classes as with unknown XML data
structures... I don't see any principled difference between these two
problem scenarios: in both case you've got some previously unencountered
Web resource (a URI-nameable thingy) and you want to know what it's
useful for.


Daniel.Brickley at                  
Institute for Learning and Research Technology
University of Bristol,  Bristol BS8 1TN, UK.   phone:+44(0)117-9287096

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