Re: Jade/DSSSL future

Subject: Re: Jade/DSSSL future
From: Paul Tyson <ptyso@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 00:37:21 -0500
James Clark wrote:

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

Tell us it ain't so, James!  Tell us!

Am I the only one who prizes the ISO family of SGML standards more for
the philosophy and concepts they embody, than for the syntax they
prescribe?  Truth and beauty (in whatever garb) never capture much
market share.  You can look at the syntax of these standards as the
shining white robe of the enlightened, or the hairshirt of the true
believer, but either way it is just a wrapper, an attempt to capture
ethereal concepts in typographical notation.

This is mostly a debate about values, not syntax or language design. 
Truth and Beauty vs. Facility and Utility.  Neither markets nor polls
will ever favor the former.

If it were a debate about syntax, I would hope it moves beyond the 3
basic issues I have seen so far (in this and the forum): 1) How
popular is it? 2) How "easy to use" is it? 3) What can you do with it?

Those who value Facility and Utility will choose their style sheet
syntax based entirely on the answers to these 3 questions.  XSL and CSS
will duke it out for the title of Most Useful Here and Now.

But can't we ask some questions weighted toward the Truth and Beauty
camp?  Perhaps: 4) How consistently, cleanly, and completely does the
syntax represent the concepts that frame the problem domain?  5) Is the
processing model sufficiently general and abstract to address the entire
problem domain (and maybe even more)?  6) Can a "simple" language
express sophisticated, complex concepts?

DSSSL (and SGML and HyTime) gain a lot of points on these last 3 test
questions.  I hope they live long and prosper.

Paul Tyson

 DSSSList info and archive:

Current Thread