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Subject: Re: Why XML?
From: Sean Mc Grath <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:General discussion of Extensible Markup Language <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 2 Apr 1998 12:06:24 +0100
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>>>[John Wood]
>>> Text files have a limit to what they can represent.

>> [Sean Mc Grath]
>> Name one.

>[John Wood]
>Try and represent a vector diagram of the brain using a text file -
>sure, you can represent it (perhaps as a list of coordinates) but if
>you want to represent it accurately, it will no longer be as
>human-readable.

Oh I see, the binary representation will be crystal clear I suppose:-)

>So perhaps I should have said 'Text files have a limit to what they
>can *accurately* represent while retaining human-readability'.

Yes you should have.

>Because of its restricted nature, when you promote human-readability
>of the text, you compromise information retention: The more
>identifiable it is, the more information you are likely to lose in
>its representation.

I think that you need to back up sweeping statements like that
with some examples:-)

>You'll see this when you start to try and represent more detailed
>data using XML - it really won't be human-readable any more.  And if
>you strived to make it human-readable, you'll only be able to do that
>by losing some of the detail.
>

I have been using SGML/XML for more years than I care to remember
and have represented all sorts of complex data with them.

I am not sure where this thread is headed. I think it
will be difficult to get to the <root/> of the matter
until you post some examples of the problems you see
so that we can chew over them.

Here is what I am trying to say:-

        Binary formats and APIs *constrain* the uses to which data
        can be put. They make information "application owned" rather
        that "creator owned".

        Binary formats are hunky dory for internal application use
        and I am all for it as long as the application provides
        a XML data representation that I can get at. Once I have
        this I *know* that I am not constrained by any vendor in
        terms of what I can do with my data.

        With XML I know that I can rapidly develop applications
        without dusting off yet another badly documented, buggy
        API and spending weeks just getting my head around the
        data structures.

        XML raises the base level of data interchange above
        plain text by allowing markup intermingled with the
        text to describe complex structures.

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