xml:id RE: [sc34wg3] Compact syntax requirement question

Bernard Vatant sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Tue, 19 Jul 2005 14:56:44 +0200

Lars Marius

Apologies to have seemed so "negative" and "aggressive". Just some precisions.

> I think it's quite clear that XML is going to have to struggle
> quite hard to compete with

> [bernard : person = "Bernard Vatant"; "vatant, bernard"]

This is where I disagree, and where I think Patrick got my point. The above has never
seemed *simple* nor intuitive to me; neither to read, nor to write (too many [ : ; [ % @
make me uneasy). To tell the truth I never even tried to learn to read LTM or AsTMa= so
actually I only guess the semantics of the above. But maybe it's only because I'm lazy :))
Anyway simplicity is what is simple for the user, and is not necessarily in linear
relation with string length ...
I've edited a lot of XTM, and never found it "painful". Verbose and heavy, yes, but not

Now the argument that it is needed for TMQL is another story. I don't understand it
completely because I'm not sure what INSERT in TMQL is, but it's certainly relevant.

>| 	CTM should be easy to validate
> That's an interesting requirement, but I'm not sure exactly what you
> mean by it. Validate on what level? Syntactically? Or against a schema?

I'm amazed by those questions. If you specify a language, I guess you provide ways to
check if the files you produce are conformant to the specification. Call it well-formed,
valid, whatever, in any case : when I get a file "foo.ctm", how do I make sure it's
conformant to the CTM specification? What kind of tool do I use? When I have an XML file,
I know that I have two possible levels of validation (at least), and the ways to check it
in my XML editor. What should be the levels of validation for CTM, I don't know. I just
wonder how they will be specified, and which tools i will use. Certainly a simple text
editor will not do it, right?

> And easy for whom? The implementor or the user?

Anyone who is bound to ask the question : is that file valid CTM? For example ...

[bernard : person = "Bernard Vatant"; vatant, bernard"]

... is not well-formed LTM, I guess. You need a specific parser to find out why, right?
Are such parsers available?
You say a lot of people use LTM. How do they cope with that? Are there LTM
editors/parsers/validators around?
Sorry if those seem silly questions, but lack of answers prevented me to use LTM so far.


Bernard Vatant
Mondeca Knowledge Engineering
(+33) 0871 488 459


> -----Message d'origine-----
> De : sc34wg3-admin@isotopicmaps.org
> [mailto:sc34wg3-admin@isotopicmaps.org]De la part de Patrick Durusau
> Envoyé : mardi 19 juillet 2005 13:54
> À : sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
> Objet : Re: xml:id RE: [sc34wg3] Compact syntax requirement question
> Lars,
> Consider the age of HTML and the lack of any demand for a "compact"
> syntax to replace it.
> Or that XQuery appears to be proceeding with an XML syntax.
> I think part of the problem is not everyone shares the background that
> makes you say "XML is too painful."
> Realizing that we all have other committments, perhaps making the case
> for a "compact" syntax along the lines of LTM or AsTMa=, rather than
> assuming everyone shares the same view of an XML syntax might ease us
> past this point.
> Personally I think very abbreviated syntaxes are probably the favorites
> of heavy users while XML (but still compact) syntaxes would probably be
> favored by less heavy users.
> Both are legitimate user communities.
> Hope you are having a great day!
> Patrick
> Lars Marius Garshol wrote:
> >* Lars Marius Garshol
> >|
> >| CTM is specifically meant *not* to be an XML syntax.
> >
> >* Bernard Vatant
> >|
> >| Indeed? Where is this specified, [...]
> >
> >Well, that was the problem: it wasn't specified in writing anywhere.
> >
> >| and what is the rationale for not using XML?
> >
> >That CTM should be compact, etc, and usable within TMQL (because we
> >need it for the INSERT support in TMQL updates). XML is just too
> >verbose for that.
> >
> >| If I read the following requirements.
> >|
> >|   (f) CTM needs to be compact, and easy to write.
> >|
> >|   (g) CTM needs to be easy to read.
> >
> >Yep. I think it's quite clear that XML is going to have to struggle
> >quite hard to compete with
> >
> >  [bernard : person = "Bernard Vatant"; "vatant, bernard"]
> >
> >(though this is of course not meant to imply that CTM == LTM, or
> >anything like it).
> >
> >The rationale for doing this is that a for a very large number of
> >cases one needs to be able to hand-edit topic map content. In these
> >cases XML is just too painful, and today people have to use LTM or
> >AsTMa= (and in fact lots of people do). It would be better if there
> >were something standardized they could use, and since we will need
> >something standardized for TMQL updates anyway we figured it would be
> >better to define this now, so that CTM, TMQL, and TMCL can have
> >coherent syntaxes.
> >
> >| I would like to add :
> >|
> >| 	CTM should be easy to validate
> >
> >That's an interesting requirement, but I'm not sure exactly what you
> >mean by it. Validate on what level? Syntactically? Or against a
> >schema? And easy for whom? The implementor or the user?
> >
> >| 	CTM should be easy to translate from/into other TM syntaxes
> >| 	(e.g. XTM)
> >
> >Hmmmm. What do you mean by "translate" here? If you have a topic map
> >engine with support for import/export of all the syntaxes then there's
> >really no way to fail this requirement, which makes me suspect you
> >mean something else.
> >
> >| So, if not XML, what kind of format do you figure? Plain text, with
> >| specific grammar?  With specific editing tools? Specific validators
> >| and parsers? Specific stylesheets?
> >
> >Specific grammar and parser, yes. I don't know that there is any need
> >for the others. A simple editing mode for your favourite text editor
> >is all that's needed for developers, and they are the only ones meant
> >to use this anyway (real users should use real editing tools). Given a
> >proper parser there is no need for a specific validator (the parser
> >will do syntactic validation as part of parsing, anyway). What you
> >mean by "specific stylesheets" I don't know.
> >
> >| This does not mean "easy" to me at all. If, just for sake of
> >| compactness (compacity?), I lose all XML technology support, count
> >| me out, I'll stick to XTM. Given existing tools, today : easy to
> >| write, read, parse, validate and translate means to me XML, sorry.
> >
> >Why are you so negative to this? We're proposing to standardize a kind
> >of syntax which is already very widely used, primarily because it's
> >needed as a piece in another standard anyway. What's the big problem?
> >Why get upset over that?
> >
> >
> >
> --
> Patrick Durusau
> Patrick@Durusau.net
> Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
> Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
> Member, Text Encoding Initiative Board of Directors, 2003-2005
> Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!
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