RE: TECHWR-L: XML as Help Format

Subject: RE: TECHWR-L: XML as Help Format
From: Rick Kirkham <rkirkham -at- seagullscientific -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 11:25:29 -0700

"Chris Knight" <cknight -at- attcanada -dot- ca> wrote:

> XML will allow us to store information in an appropriately structured way,
> then search, retrieve, and present, to both humans and computer programs,
> that information.

This is misleading. XML is only a family of markup languages. *It* won't
"search, retrieve, and present". Only applications that can parse and
process XML will do these things. I wouldn't mention this picky point, but
the rest of Chris's post may lead to misunderstanding of XML.

> This in turn will not happen unless writers (users in general) have
> tools. As far as I know, one cannot NOW use such as Word or Frame to
> edit, print, documents which in fact use XML (and associated DTDs and XSL
> stylesheets) as their file format. Conversion to/from XML, yes, but not
> work with XML files. Am I right?

I don't think you are right. XML is not a file format, like ASCII, or the
proprietary formats of Word or Frame, so it is not really coherent to even
ask the question whether those tools can work with files that "use XML as
their file format". XML is a family of markup languages within the broader
family of SGML. Only one XML language I know of, XHTML (sometimes
misleadingly called HTML 5.0), is a set of formating tags. All other XML
languages are designed to tag information in ways that having nothing to do
with its presentation. Hence, to speak of WYSIWYG tools for XML doesn't
really make any sense either. The *file format* of any XML document is
ASCII. So Notepad is as much a WYSIWYG for XML as there could ever be. (The
WYSIWYG for an XHTML document is an XHTML-compatible browser or editor.)

By the way, you CAN create XML documents in Word and Frame. Just save them
as plain text. This does not involve conversion to/from XML. It is
conversion to/from ASCII, but the files are always XML.

> Has anyone found a word-processing feature that *cannot* be rendered in

*No* word processing feature can be rendered in XML. XML is not a
programming language. Word processing software is written with programming
languages, like C++ or Visual Basic, etc. What you may have meant to ask is
"Is there any formatting feature that cannot be tagged in XHTML?"


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