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XML-L  September 2000

XML-L September 2000

Subject:

Re: Schemas vs. DTD's

From:

Robin Cover <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Robin Cover <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 7 Sep 2000 12:00:41 -0500

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (62 lines)

At 04:09 PM 9/7/00 +0100, Helen Farrell wrote:
>I thought the whole point of XML was to set standards, but to retain
>simplicity where possible. I don't feel that Schemas are readily
>understood by the majority of people.

1) How not to form a plural

Item #1 (meta-comment)  Note that the Subject line carries
a spelling "DTD's" for the plural of "DTD".  There seems
to be an epidemic outbreak of apostrophe used to form
simple grammatical plural (absolute) forms, and I'm afraid
this is going to take down the English language, if not
whole national economies.  Yes, I know that K-Mart had
a special sale on apostrophes earlier in the summer
(10,000 for USD $10), and I know that these apostrophes
all expire on September 30, so people are in a hurry
to use them up...

But: "DTD's" is marked for illiteracy. Let's try to
avoid this.  [PS - A couple months ago in a moment
of 'death-by-apostrophe-formed-plural', I turned to
a half dozen of the best style manuals to make sure
there wasn't SOME explanation other than the
K-Mart sale.  As far as I know, there is not.  If
anyone owns (and can cite) a language authority
prescribing a rule to justify "DTD's", please let me
know.]

2) On XML Schema and the comment that the specification
is "not understood by the majority of people" -- there's
a large question in my mind about how many and what
kinds of people "should" have to understand the Schema
spec.  I suspect that a lot of people who use regex
have not ever read the POSIX spec, and might find it
difficult reading;  similarly with many other specifications
that govern tasks common to common people.  The larger
question is whether software can be created to
protect authors and other end users from the details of
the specification.  I think so: we have many
analogies.  Meantime, if the spec is hard to
understand, it's in good company; if it's more
complex than XML 1.0's specification for DTDs, that's
in part due to (1) the fact that XML Schemas do a whole
lot more (complex things) than DTDs could ever do
(brain-dead and broken as they are) and (2) that
XML Schema is still hamstrung by backward-compatibility
obligations.

XSL is complex too; so also DSSSL.  Sometimes it takes
a complex formalism to specify a good generalizable
solution.

Meantime, for those willing to wade into the water,
I have prepared an extensive collection of references:

http://www.oasis-open.org/cover/schemas.html

"XML Schemas"

Best wishes, and watch those 'DTDs'...

Robin Cover

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