Re: Giving up on XML

Subject: Re: Giving up on XML
From: Janice Gelb <janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com>
To: techwhirlers <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 07:30:40 +1100

Mike Starr wrote:
> Well, of course you're right... if I could think of a reason I'd need a
> nanny to watch over my shoulder and make sure I didn't violate standards
> I'd have to choose a different tool. I do think that, in spite of not
> having been created by an "official" Structured Document Authoring
> Tool®, it could still actually be a structured document. If it walks
> like a duck...

You're right. I should have said the document was not
*necessarily* structured, not that it automatically

> However, I suspect if the standard you're referring to had incorporated
> a second head3-level style for those sorts of situations, your writers
> wouldn't have felt compelled to use a head4 in its place. There should
> always be a mechanism in place for situations that weren't anticipated
> when the style guide/DTD was created. Even the best style guide needs to
> be overridden once in a while. That's the value of an experienced writer.

And the value of a team dedicated to making sure
that requests for modifications to the DTD is
composed of both tools people and writers. In
the case I mentioned, we found that sometimes
the writers were just cheerfully ignoring the
hierarchy but in other cases they were documenting
commands/functions after a global head2 and the
font size for a head3 was indeed a bit much for
command/function names. So we created a separate
structure for command/function sections and styled
its title to distinguish it from standard head3s
with a smaller, monospace font.

However, other writers were just using the head4
because they thought it looked better and that
is the case to which I was referring. The whole
point of using typefaces/sizes to distinguish
head levels is so the reader gets a visual cue
to the structure, not for individual aesthetics.

Yet another difference between unstructured use
of format and structured tagging is this very example:
here you are investing the styles for head with
inherent structure but in fact, "a second head3-
level style" wouldn't be any more correct than
a head4 style if both were different than the
style that is supposed to indicate a third-level
structural section to the reader. In a structured
tagging language, the names for the tags indicate
the structural level, not just the styling.

> But just out of curiosity, if one skips a level, is that inherently
> evil? Isn't the resulting document still intact with respect to the
> heirarchy? And even if it isn't is that in itself a fatal flaw if I can
> look at the document structure and still make sense of it? In my case,
> there's nobody to impose structure on my documents other than my own
> built-in standards that I adhere to.

How can the document still be intact with
respect to the hierarchy if it's skipping a
level and going from a level 2 to a level 4?
Whether that's a fatal flaw is another question.
My feeling is that if the content is going from
material of level 2 importance to material with
level 4 importance with no intervening material
with level 3 importance then yes, there probably
is a structural problem that should be investigated.

I find it somewhat amusing that in the first para
you said that you didn't need a nanny to make
sure you didn't violate global standards but in the
last para you're cheerfully saying that you only
adhere to your own built-in standards.

-- Janice

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address

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Rant: Giving up on XML: From: siliconwriter
Re: Giving up on XML: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Giving up on XML: From: quills
Re: Giving up on XML: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Giving up on XML: From: quills
Re: Giving up on XML: From: Mike Starr
Re: Giving up on XML: From: Janice Gelb
Re: Giving up on XML: From: Mike Starr

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