re: Giving up on XML

Subject: re: Giving up on XML
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 14:05:05 -0500

Sean Hower wrote:
> Honestly, though, I think a great deal of frustration comes from
> the lack of an out-of-the-box, end-to-end solution for using
> docbook and all that goes along with it (tools, stylesheets,
> parsers, blah blah blah) to create documentation. And I'm
> talking about something as simple as performing a single
> install to get everything working. I never found anything like that and
it was really
> my own stubburness, and desire not to be defeated by software,
> that got me to the point that I had everything working. I
> could be wrong on this, of course, but this issue should also be
addressed.

Yes it should be addressed. But then the users must be aware of the
paradigm and realise that the system used will be akin to using a
FrameMaker or Word template As-Is out of the box with no modification.
The frustration that surfaces immediately after getting the system working
is that the system cho­sen doesn?t conform to the work at hand, when the
choice of an out-of-the-box solution requires that the users accept to
conform their work to the tool.
And both those frustrations arise while ignoring the often vast
differences between the final "end-to-end" implementations involving
current tools and various difficulties experienced while getting those
tools up-to-speed. We give great allowances and are selectively forgetful
of the sins of the devils we know.

> There is one thing that is really apparent though, people still
> don't understand XML or what it should be used for. I'm not sure,
> though, that diving into the technical details to clarify technical
> points would be helpful to someone who hasn't grasp some of the
> high-level concepts. Any discussion should be framed in a
> common reference otherwise you're (and I don't mean you specifically)
> speaking in gibberish and the audience will just tune out
> and miss the important stuff. Right?

Yes, right. But...
You can?t allow the common reference to be a misrepresentation. There?s a
basic minimum that needs to be learned. The relationship between XML,
DTDs, implementations, and Tools would, IMO, be that bare minimum.
Because only once that is understood can it be determined if the problems
or misunderstandings lie in configuring/installing a tool, understanding
the structure of a specific implementation (HTML, DITA, Docbook), or else
where.

Chris Borokowski wrote:
> Bingo! There's no NCSA Mosaic for XML yet.

Groan. :P

Yes there is. IE will display XML. So will FireFox. Now XML conforming to
which structure and how it?s formatted, that?s another thing. It displays
HTML, right? And there are XML compliant instances of HTML.

But, it?ll handle non-HTML XML as well. First link is in HTML. The second
in XML:
http://www.xml.com/pub/a/1999/03/ie5/first-x.html
http://www.xml.com/1999/03/ie5/first-x.xml

Although unfortunately the example page is an article that goes a little
too much into under-the-hood details for many. I chose it just because it
was the first hit in Google .

If anybody facetiously points out that the XML isn?t handled the same in
all browsers or that all can?t handle it, I have but one question: When
did all browsers finally implement HTML in the same way and support all
the optional specifications?


Eric L. Dunn
Senior Technical Writer


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