AW: AW: AW: AW: [xsl] commenting and documenting XSLT (small survey)

Subject: AW: AW: AW: AW: [xsl] commenting and documenting XSLT (small survey)
From: <christof.hoeke@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 11:43:33 +0200
hi Wendell,
first, thanks for your input.

> Von: Wendell Piez [mailto:wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]

> At 08:01 AM 7/8/2004, you wrote:
> >~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> >a list
> >======
> >* item 1
> >* item 2
> >
> >with some *emphasized* or ``tt`` text
> >~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> >
> It is readable, and writable, but:
> Is it learnable? (how do I know that * delimits emphasis,
> except when it
> doesn't? what if I want bold not italics? what if I do
> ~this~, what comes out?)
> What happens when it contains glitches?

The problems you describe is exactly the reason why i did not develop another
format myself.
ReST is a format which I only chose. It seems to be one of the better wiki
like ML languages. It is currently in development but seems to be quite usable
already. From what I know about it it has some really good developers which
have much more experience doing such a thing that i ever might have. (For more
details see the docutils website.)

Learnable? Well, it certainly is another language to learn and that's also a
complaint I got from an xsldoc user. On the other hand it is quite a simple
format (if you stick to the basics which are probably only used for the text
in XML comments anyway) but *can* do complex things if you need them.

> How does an author know whether it is properly formed,
> without concepts
> analogous to XML "well-formedness" and "valid", and tools to
> implement
> their specifications? Is there any way to know the
> correctness of the input
> besides running the process and inspecting the output? If so,
> what is it

the process that generates XHTML out of the txt format does give quite good
error messages, so it does validate its format. But you are right, that this
still is an area which I have not really looked into.

> and how is it specified? If not, who owns, controls, and
> maintains the
> ur-process that controls everything?
> Also, I question how easy it is to process into XHTML
> afterwards. It may be
> easy to do the first 80% but I submit that the last 20% --
> and all the
> subsequent desiderata like "how do I make a list item with
> more than one
> line in it?" -- will probably drive you crazy.

that is not the scope of my app as i only use the docutils format and their
developers have sorted out the main things already. I am just a user of the
format and so have to hope that the docutils project does what they say it
should (which i think they do btw).

> Part of what makes XML so powerful -- for those that have
> eyes to see -- is
> that it handles these questions in such a robust way. No, XML
> syntax is not
> perfect. But the syntax is just the beginning of a markup
> application, not
> the end. XML has not only got a syntax, it has a very sophisticated
> processing model as well, which can be used to address
> questions such as
> those I've asked above. Part of XML's sophistication is
> evident in how
> simple it appears to be, and basically is, while it can
> likewise scale in
> complexity to address very difficult, and various, problems.
> But that simplicity took years -- decades -- of experimenting
> with markup
> languages before anything solidified (it happened to be SGML)
> to the point
> that it could be reinvented as "XML".
> I like WikiML and the whole notion of reduced, learnable,
> plain-text markup
> conventions, and I'll take it as a sign of real progress when
> one emerges
> with a design compelling enough, and a processing model robust enough
> (it'll have to go beyond "check correctness by eyeballing
> output"), to
> unseat the currently-dominant paradigm. Anything not as
> dead-simple as
> <tag>this</tag> is going to be a pain to learn, teach, maintain.
> And it would be ironic if a utility you developed to help you
> maintain
> stylesheets became a maintenance headache of its own.

I am convinced that XML is a great format for various reasons (may it only
that it is a standard *a lot* of people agreed on and use). Certainly there
will be an even better format in the future, but not the near one...
XML is just not very suitable for the area I need an ML language for. a wiki
style ML is much better for that as it is much more readable and writable and
IMHO is learnable with neglectable effort.

> You asked for opinions ... I agree with David and DaveP on this one.
> Cheers,
> Wendell


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