XML Information Set is seeding impenetrable language; reconsider?

Nils Klarlund klarlund at research.att.com
Wed Jan 19 21:20:05 GMT 2000

> "Write more clearly" is easy to say, but a vague point for debate, and no
> one would argue against it. 

I did not say that the writing was not clear; in fact, I said the
opposite.  I am, however, unhappy with the terminology introduced,
which is needlessly artificial.  It's bound to irritate.

Also, I tend to believe that the publication of this abstract model
should be postponed until the point where it can be explained by a
simply-stated simplification of DOM concepts.

But the most important issue is to cast the definitions in terms
people can understand (I and others looked at the document several
times before I even began to grasp what it was about).

Consider the introductory phrase:

  "This document specifies an abstract data set called the XML
   information set (Infoset), a description of the information available
   in a well-formed XML document [XML]."

Information? This word is much too overloaded. And what is an abstract
data set? So write, I'd suggest:

"This document explains how a canonical labeled tree, called the XML
tree, can be associated to any XML document.  The XML tree is a
straightforward mathematical abstraction that does not distinguish
between inconsequential differences in the concrete, character-based
XML syntax.

Then "attribute information item" becomes "attribute node",
etc.---something that's imminently understandable as demonstrated by
James Clark et al.


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