(XML)Vocabularies getting out of hand

Kevin Thiele kevin.thiele at PI.CSIRO.AU
Thu Dec 2 09:45:14 CET 1999

Jean-Marc writes:

>Just say for the moment that we'll have several vocabularies by large
>   * biological descriptions (generalities)
>   * botany
>   * zoology
>   * Virology
>   * Microbiology
>   * geography
>   * ecology
>May the forgotten disciplines forgive me... They'll have their XML
>vocabularies too.

Getting messy - I can't imagine that there's much shared vocabulary between,
say, mammals, insects, nematodes, sponges..., just to take a few groups from
the "zoology vocabulary". And if you asked taxomomists in each of these
fields to use a common vocab they'd complain about square pegs in round holes.

I think this whole idea of a universalist vocabulary (even several
universes) is becoming silly. Better to work on the generalities and let
collaborators work up their own vocabularies, with all the mess that that
will entail. If this thing ever takes off, I think there will be no way of
avoiding hundreds of vocabularies, not any handful that we can determine.

Leigh comments:

>Just to comment here, one approach being taken by the XHTML working group
>is to take modular approach with future version of the specification (XHTML
>onwards). This allows defined portions of the spec to be replaced with
>vendor specific extensions, e.g. replace all the form elements with
>some extended/amended syntax, or the same with tables, etc.
>Such an approach might benefit this effort, in that a core set of
>descriptive markup for characters can be defined, and then allow
>additional modular extensions for the differing disciplines.
>This has the advantage of providing a small initial spec and data model
>which can then be extended. (an approach thats worth considering
>even without modularity included in the final design).

Even a core set for mammals, insects, nematodes, sponges... would probably
be a null set, except for cellular characters.

Cheers - k

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