Standardizing on XML? (Was: Re: Why WYSIWYG for XML???)

Subject: Standardizing on XML? (Was: Re: Why WYSIWYG for XML???)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 22 May 2004 07:15:48 -0400

Bruce Byfield, quoting Chris Despopoulos ("I would like to see XML as the format for a significant portion of all the text that is now created"), wondered: <<Would you mind holding forth on your reasons?>>

I won't speak for Chris, but I see this as both wonderful idea and a complete disaster. The wonderful part: Any GML, including XML, can constrain how badly users can mangle the text. A well-implemented XML structure*, with a user-friendly interface, would prevent users from committing some of the formatting atrocities they routinely commit and actually help them write better or at least force them to learn to use styles properly. As a freelance editor, this would eliminate hours of reformatting some weeks.

* Do you trust Microsoft to do this right in fewer than 3 tries? I work mostly in Word to cope with client files, and I sure don't trust 'em.

<<What do you think the rewards of switching are to the average writer?>>

That's the "complete disaster" part. The average writer (office workers, research scientists, engineers, etc. rather than technical writers) can't use even the simple style features that already exist. If constrained by a DTD or even by simple format validation, most would come up with even more horrific things to do with styles* than they already do rather than trying to learn the new features.

* Such as applying whatever style tag the DTD suggests (i.e., the tag permitted by the DTD at a given position) rather than thinking about the semantics long enough to select the correct tag. For example, you'd be amazed at how many bulleted lists I see that are created by manually typing bullet characters and tabs rather than selecting the bullet style from the template.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???: From: Chris Despopoulos
RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???: From: Bruce Byfield

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