Call for unifying and clarifying XML 1.0, DOM, XPATH, and XML Infoset

Lars Marius Garshol larsga at
Thu Jan 27 10:11:00 GMT 2000

* Michael Champion
| I can say with some confidence that "they" don't get it.  I don't
| get it.  The DOM WG has wrestled with the ISO stuff and took out of
| it all that we thought could use.  The SML-DEV people wrestled with
| the ISO stuff from their fresh start at all this and don't get it
| either.  A lot of people who are not not stupid or lazy or subject
| to anyone's irrational phobias have tried and failed to understand
| what you see in the ISO specs that would lead you to believe that
| they have solved in a useful way the problems we wrestle with.

I have also noted this phenomenon and have thought a little about what
the possible causes might be.  The grove concept is very easy to
understand, much more so than anyone would believe who has not
actually delved into it. 

However, it has not been presented in an effective manner. Almost the
only piece of information about it that is easy to understand for a
programmer is Paul Prescod's tutorial[1]. I have read it, worked with
SGML, DSSSL and similar things for years, and even so I, personally,
did not really understand it until I got an explanation from Eliot
Kimber at a conference.

So I see several reasons for the general failure to understand what
groves are all about:

 - lack of suitable presentational material
 - the fact that it comes from a different community with a different
   philosophy and terminology
 - the extreme suspicion with which many W3C (and other) people view
   anything coming out of the ISO processes (this is not directed at
   you, Michael; I have no idea what your stance is)
 - the fact that groves and the DOM have different purposes

This last point needs a little elaboration: groves serve as a basis
for addressing and can also be used for read-only processing. The DOM
is intended as a basis for read-and-write processing. This doesn't
mean that groves don't have anything to give the DOM, but it does make
it easier to miss the point about groves when you're really looking
for the answer to a different question than that answered by groves.
That being said, I would be very happy to see the W3C publish property
sets for CSS, XML (ie: the information set as a property set), XLink,
RDF (or at least a mapping from RDF) and maybe even the web itself.
In lieu of this I find it very encouraging that some specs, such as
XLink, now use RDF to express their data models. Anyone for RDFPointer?

| The "lack of influence garnered by ISO 10744" is, as near as I can
| tell, the result of its difficulty for an ordinarily intelligent
| person to understand, not a conspiracy involving Microsoft, the
| press, the W3C, or anyone else.  Point the world to a clarified,
| unified, readable exposition of the "ISO stuff" that doesn't presume
| that one understands the entire SGML property set and I assure you
| it will be given fair consideration by a lot of people.

Start with Paul Prescod's tutorial, and then go ask him, Peter Newcomb
or Eliot Kimber the next time you see one of them (try to get them to
give you a GroveMinder demo!). I've not put Steven on this list
because I'm not sure if he would present this in the way programmers
need, but maybe he should be in there as well.

--Lars M.

[1] <URL: >

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