RE: Jade/DSSSL future

Subject: RE: Jade/DSSSL future
From: "Didier PH Martin" <martind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 08:54:00 -0400
Hi Frank,

James Clark wrote:
> My general feeling is that just as the future is XML not SGML, so the
> future is also XSL not DSSSL.

Frank said:
> I get the same impression, but then, XML seems to be aimed at the huge
> population of individual users on the web, whereas SGML has always been,
> with few exceptions, a corporate sort of thing. Let's face it: the tools
> that are available for SGML are relatively few and inaccessible (both in
> terms of their price tag, and their user-friendliness) to everyday users.
> But with all the backing XML has, end users can reasonably expect a large
> variety of tools to choose from. Furthermore, even if XML is "worse" than
> SGML (and I'm not saying it is), if it is at least more mainstream than
> SGML, it will encourage more innovation from tool suppliers, which will
> cancel out for many people the benefits of SGML.

James and Frank made me think on this topic. Actually, we can say that both
XML and SGML share the same weakness on some plans and that XML get some
advantages on others.
a) authoring tools: both XML and SGML share the same weakness. It is still
hard to find an easy to use tool (for the mainstream) to create XML or SGML
documents. In fact, I would say that the user friendly authoring tools (sort
of) used for SGML could be used for XML but nothing is gained from the user
point of view. Also, tagging documents is often, as discovered in big
enterprises an added cost (from the author point of view). As we all know,
we also gain formatting versatility.
b) browsers. This is where the gain is the most tangible. Up to now, SGML
browsers where expensive and HTML browsers free. Now XML browsers are free
too. This is an area where XML has an advantage compared to SGML.

We'll have to watch closely the other area where XML has potential:
e-commerce. Here again, we'll see if tools are up to the our hope. However,
the probability is quite high it will (millions are invested in this field).

James said:
>  When XSLT and XSL are done, there will (I
> hope) be nothing you can do in DSSSL that you can't do with XSL(T).
> DSSSL has not achieved widespread acceptance, and of course that's
> disappointing to all of us involved in DSSSL.  But I think we have to
> face up to the fact that the main reason it has failed to achieve
> acceptance is not because of lack of promotion or explanation or
> marketing (although that has probably been a factor), but because of
> real useability problems in the language itself.

Frank said:
> What usability problems are you talking about?

I agree with Frank on this. However I should say that lisp like syntax is
repellant to a lot of people trained with block constructs. But this is also
true for XSL (for different reasons). XSL is not as easy as some say it is.

Several of us discovered that DSSSL could be learned if the learning steps
are adapted to the learner For instance, I discovered that if DSSSL is
showed with block like constructs, it is easier for people used to block
languages like Java or C/C++ to learn it. The difficulty is only with
reversed notation. But the same thing could be said of some XSL constructs
(again for different reasons). XSL advanced features are as esoteric as
DSSSL advanced features. I think that the differences do not lay in the
language virtues but more on the marketing power. W3C has tremendous
marketing power through its member and the mind share it gets because of the
Web. So it has basically nothing to do with the qaulity of the byproduct but
more with big pockets power.

Didier PH Martin

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