Minimalism AND functionalism

Kevin Thiele kevin.thiele at PI.CSIRO.AU
Tue Sep 5 09:31:03 CEST 2000

>>>From Jim Croft,

| >The standard I'm working towards ALLOWS this degree of formality, but
| >doesn't ENFORCE it.
| Although I think I understand and like what we are trying to do I am
| a slight problem here...  a standard that does not enforce itself, is not
| really a standard, is it?

No, I don't think that's what's happening. The question I'm trying to ask

what are the REQUIRED elements of the standard (ie those elements that must
be present for a document to be valid under the standard)?

I'm arguing that there is merit in using a minimal set of required elements,
and of course also incorporating in the standard a larger set of optional
elements. We all do this all the time, e.g. the property PRIVATE NOTES -
no-one would suggest that every document to be valid under the standard
should include private notes, but it's handy having the option to include

It seems to me, for instance, that a CHARACTER LIST element should be
optional, not required. Sure, having a character list allows validation and
a document would be more valuable (in some contexts) for its inclusion, but
I see advantage in not enforcing its presence.

So I'm proposing, as ground-zero, that the only absolute requirements are
that a document have DESCRIPTION elements, that these have ELEMENT elements
(terminology is unfortunate here) and that these have VALUEs. This is a long
way down the track towards minimalism, I know, but I'm floating it for

So, as I've exampled before, I'd like something like:

<DOCUMENT ID = "d2" Name = "One thing I know about a rose">
            <ITEM_NAME> Rose </ITEM NAME>
            <ELEMENT_NAME> Smell </ELEMENT_NAME>
        <VALUE> Sweet </VALUE>

to be a valid document. It contains information in a structured way that
means something, and the information can be parsed. Sure, this document
couldn't be used direct as input to Lucid or DELTA, but does that make it
worthless? I'm working at the moment towards a future generation of the
Lucid Builder (and perhaps future DELTA Builders will be similar) that will
indeed be able to collect and interactively integrate such structured bits
of information.

Maybe wacky, but why not?

Cheers - k

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