SGML/XML syntax for DSSSL

Subject: SGML/XML syntax for DSSSL
From: James Clark <jjc@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 10:57:45 +0700
I think it will help the discussion if we can use reasonably meaningful
subject lines.

At 06:49 18/05/97 -0400, Paul Prescod wrote:

>Let's moot a couple of heretic ideas.
>Syntax less like Lisp?
>Maybe a CSS-like syntax? I'm strongly supportive of the existing DSSSL
>syntax for the full DSSSL constituency, but I don't want to turn off
>Dirty Perl Hackers.

One possible kind of alternative syntax is a C/C++/Java/CSS like one.
Another possible kind is an SGML/XML based one.

For the non-programmer (who presumably already knows SGML), I think
something like:

<element name=WARN>
  <paragraph font-size=12pt font-family-name=Times-Roman
    <chars font-weight=bold>WARN</chars>

is quite natural.

I think this stops being natural when you start trying to doing programming.
But for this, an alternative syntax seems less important to me: the fact
that you have to program in a functional way is a far bigger leap for a
C/C++/Java programmer than is the syntax.

One approach that makes sense to me is:

- Provide an SGML/XML syntax for the non-programmatic parts of DSSSL.  This
should support calling procedures.  You would also need some very simple
"expressions" within attribute values (ie +2pt, 10%).

- Use the current syntax for defining procedures.

- Provide a more extensive library of procedures to make it possible to
handle a wider range of documents without having to do any programming.

This approach I think also makes sense in the context of GUI tools: they
would fully support GUI editing of the XML parts, but the Scheme parts would
be edited as text.


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