Fwd: Re: simple instance

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Wed Sep 17 08:50:29 CEST 2003

I am sorry - I had not realized the discussion had moved off list...  :(

was just replying mindlessly to email as it came in...  :)


>Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 08:45:00 +1000
>To: "G. Hagedorn" <G.Hagedorn at bba.de>
>From: Jim Croft <jrc at anbg.gov.au>
>Subject: Re: simple instance
>>Bob very bravely defended our decision and I think it is more or less
>It was not meant to be an attack...  just expressing a bit of concern that
>non-SDD people are going to look at it and freak out at the specification
>>but your reaction concerns me, because this is socialogical
>>and a question of acceptance.
>that is why I made the comments... if our specification is so complex in
>its implementation that people can not understand or install it they will
>not become engaged in our noble cause...
>>The specification (= "schema" with comments) of html
>>is not, it is huge.
>>Doing <leaves><simple/></leaves> is very short. However, that means
>>we have to put the specification (= "schema") elsewhere.
>As a general rule, argument by analogy is not a good thing to do, but in
>this case I think the comparison is apt...
>The reason HTML took off is that it was simple enough to understand the
>code and implied DTD, and it was not allowed to fail from the users
>perspective - you could put in as many or as few tags as you liked, even
>leave out the all important <html> and half the closing tags, and it would
>still not bomb out on the browser...  I believe it was this level of fault
>tolerance that ensured its unquestionable success.
>SGML on the other hand was impenetrable to the average human, or
>scientist, and was almost a complex as SDD and as a result has almost
>vanished from the  everyday information management lexicon.  It was
>undeniably a better environment to do what we were trying to achieve, but
>there was not way we were going to be able to give it the level of social
>acceptance to enable it to take off like HTML did...
>and then along came XML which offered the power of SGML with the
>simplicity of HTML...  we had to be the opportunity to be as simple or as
>complex as we want...
>and here we are... :)
>>The SDD design principle is to allow the user to define things. That
>>means we not only have the leaves and simple, we also need to define
>>that. That makes it a lot more complicated.
>perhaps were should look a bit more closely at the word 'allow'.  As it
>stands at the moment, are we allowing, or compelling people to define
>everything, multiple times?
>Is there a compromise position?  can we specify the standard to different
>backwardly compatible levels depending on the degree of compulsion we
>might want for a particular instance?
>>Audience definitions: a single audience definition will do according
>>to our current definition. You must define one, however.
>why?   can't we have a general audience definition implied by default?
>>You can also
>>include a fairly complete set of audience definitions which should be
>>readily available at the end of this effort. Both is fine.
>Or we could leave it to be user definable?   is it linear?  perhaps a
>3,5,7,10 level of audience sophistication from stupid to genius is ok?  :)
>>If I receive a dataset from an editor that does not care about
>>statistical parameters (unable to express numeric statements) and
>>want to edit this with another application, adding numeric
>>statements, I somehow have to have a mechanism to add the basic
>>infrastructure to become able to do this. This is an extra step,
>>which we could avoid by simple for SDD version 1 require a fixed set
>>of minimal statistical parameters to be present in each file. For
>>processors not really supporting it, this would in fact be a singe
>>xinclude statement to some globally stored SDD template file.
>This is fine if we live in Bob's utopian machine to machine world, but
>until we get there we have these human things to deal with...  we need to
>be able to present a series of initial and intermediate steps in using SDD
>that people can understand and implement or all we will have is a nice
>specification that suffers the same fate as SGMwho...
>Even if it going  to be machine talking to machine, and ultimately that is
>what it needs to do, a human has to interpret what we have invented and
>instruct the machines accordingly.   Unfortunately 99 our of 100 people
>working on descriptive data do not have the level if computing savvy of  a
>Bob or a Gregor - for the most part they are taxonomists who know about
>organisms and we can't, and shouldn't, try to turn them into
>programmers.  we need to provide something to the well meaning taxonomist
>who want to do the right thing.  If we give them the schema and instance
>we are talking about, most will take one look and walk away...
>>Reason 1. silly but true: xmlspy does not display attributes in the
>>schema view directly, you are have to click on an element and then
>>look in a separate window. We therefore overlooked things that were
>>hidden in attributes.
>yep, you are right - that is silly - I remember the discussion now... :)
>>Reason 2. We kept moving things between elements and attributes. Some
>>things just have to be elements (because they contain further
>>structure), many things we could choose. After some indecision I
>>increasingly found that I have the best feeling of simply saying:
>>key/keyref in attributes, the rest elements.
>I think it was Guillaume who had a good definition - if it was data it
>belonged in an element, if was metadata, data about the data, then it was
>an attribute...  don't know if this is right, but it seemed to make a lot
>of sense at the time and stuck in my brain to the extent that I have not
>looked at a schema the same way since...  :)
>~ Jim Croft ~ jrc at anbg.gov.au ~ 02-62465500 ~ www.anbg.gov.au/jrc/ ~

~ Jim Croft ~ jrc at anbg.gov.au ~ 02-62465500 ~ www.anbg.gov.au/jrc/ ~

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