Re: Off-topic (was Re: Encoded rendering instructions (was Unicode's Mandate))

From: Gregg Reynolds (
Date: Thu Mar 10 2005 - 15:51:07 CST

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    Mark Davis wrote:
    > Not according to what I have heard from a number of experts in SGML / XML
    > whom I respect: apparently because of the complexity of SGML, there has
    > never existed a parser that was fully conformant to the SGML spec. I believe
    > that was one of the main motivating factors behind XML, to make a fully
    > specified, easily implementable 'subset' of SGML.
    > ‚ÄéMark
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "Marion Gunn" <>
    > Cc: <>
    > Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2005 11:48
    > Subject: Re: Encoded rendering instructions (was Unicode's Mandate)
    >>Dear God, I cut my teeth on SGML over 20 yrs ago (that was in purely
    >>academic circles, which we must can add to Philippe's 'edition and news
    >>industries' ref. below). SGML still wins hands down over everything else
    >>for stability, robustness, reversibility, platform-independence and
    >>longevity (or so I believe).

    "Fully conformant", maybe not; but the parser wasn't the big problem.
    There were at least several that were good enough; and the best of them
    (James Clark's stuff) was open source, so the problem wasn't the parser.
      Related tools, (editors, formatters, etc.) well that's a different
    story. The problem was the standard itself in all its gory. It was
    written in the most obscure and obtuse semi-English imaginable, and
    concerned itself with many obscure and marinally useful features rooted
    in the days when keyboarding effeciency was important. Extremely useful
    and powerful *if* you could afford the learning curve and the staff to
    implement, etc. Even if there had been 300 parsers things would not
    have been substantially different. Only really big users (airplane
    manufacturers, big pharma, the US military) could afford it. All that
    stuff (manuals, maintenance records, etc.) is marked up in SGML to this
    day. If you've ever seen a fully marked up maintenance manual for a big
    hunk'o flying metal you'll know why SGML won't be going away anytime
    soon. Especially considering you can down-translate to XML to take
    advantage of the XML tool market for a lot of tasks.


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