Re: Giving up on XML

Subject: Re: Giving up on XML
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: siliconwriter -at- comcast -dot- net
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 10:32:29 -0500

> What do you think I was doing for four freakin' weeks? I read every
> book I could find, every "tutorial" I could download from the Web. I
> emailed knowledgeable friends. I can't get the most basic, ordinary,
> everyday information about creating usable documents from XML files.

> I do, however, seem to run into an inordinate number of people who
> think I'm a loon because I can't pick all this up by osmosis.

I certainly don't think you can learn from osmosis.
But, to paraphrase Douglas Adams: I think the problem isn?t with the
answer, the problem is not knowing what the question is.

Right know the question seems to be ?How do you start racing cars?? and
the answer being given involves decades of engineering study and
doctorates in everything from aerodynamics, to tire manufacturing, and the
technologies surrounding internal combustion engines followed by decades
more apprenticing as a mechanic and then as a driver.
More specifically, we should be asking: ?Can I race competitively with a
Dodge Neon?? The answer by the way, is yes. At least it was when there was
a race series limited to Dodge Neons.
More specifically still, do you want to be driving or maintaining the car,
or perhaps managing the team? Same technologies and ostensively the same
questions, but fundamentally different answers.
If you start at w3cschools, you?ve embarked on designing internal
combustion engines and aero­dynamics or going into vehicle manufacturing.
If you start with a Docbook primer, you?re reading the Haynes manual for
gasoline engine maintenance. |If you start with Docbook for FrameMaker,
you might be as complex as maintaining your own car or racing in stock car
racing to as simple as learning how to drive it on empty side streets.
What tools/files do you have, what are you trying to do?
Use an existing DTD/Schema, modify one, or create a from the ground up?
Want to use Docbook? Forget about learning XML. Learn DocBook and an
implementation of Docbook in a tool chain. How does your information
structure match or deviate compared to Doc­Book? There?s nothing more to
learning DocBook than learning HTML. It?s just tags and hierarchy. Then,
just as you have to determine what tags you use in what circumstances for
HTML you do the same with Docbook.
You need to start with a profound analysis of your needs and data. Only
then can you really start picking apart at the granular level to search
for solutions.

Eric L. Dunn
Senior Technical Writer


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