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

Patrick Durusau sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Thu, 21 Jul 2005 06:39:07 -0400


Robert Barta wrote:

>On Tue, Jul 19, 2005 at 05:56:06PM +0200, Lars Marius Garshol wrote:
>>| In further support of that reading, which I admit may be incorrect, I
>>| note that 3.1 Notation and Syntax says:
>>| > The syntax of TMQL is defined using the EBNF formalism defined in
>>| > [XML 1.0].
>>| So TMQL is being defined using EBNF, which I didn't take to mean a
>>| standard syntax in the sense that most users understand the term.
>>Why not? Why would we write "the syntax" and mean something other than
>>how the term is usually understood?
>I would assume that from the background from which Patrick comes,
>choosing a particular syntax seems to be some sort of limitation.
No, actually a much simplier point. Specifying the formal requirements 
for a language, using EBNF syntax for example, could be a different task 
than specifying a "particular" syntax in which the language was going to 
be implemented.

Obviously the authors of TMQL intended to produce a "plain text syntax" 
(and not a model for some _one_ arbitrary syntax) but it was not 
apparent from the draft.

>In Computer Science, though, agreeing on _one_ syntax for a language
>is just an arbitrary choice among many equivalent. If there are
>infinitely many equivalent choices, why not make one commitment?
I was not suggesting that an "arbitrary choice" of  _one_ syntax should 
not be made.

Certainly that choice will have to be made.

The question arose here from a presumption of the authors that a plain 
text syntax should be the norm. From the ensuing discussion, it appears 
that presumption was not universally shared by all concerned.

As far as a plain text syntax being better, I note my point that neither 
HTML nor XML have seen the need for an equivalent plain text syntax  has 
gone unanswered.

But then, as you say the choice of a syntax is "arbitrary" so I don't 
suppose comparisons really advance the conversation.

>Maybe it's only another 'doc-heads vs. data-heads' thing...
Not really. More of a failure to share the same presumptions about the 
level of abstraction at which a draft is being written. The TMDM, for 
example, specifies no syntax, which is covered by other parts of 13250. 
I was presuming the same would be the case for TMQL.

Note that at issue is not having "one" syntax but what that "one" syntax 
should be.

Hope you are having a great day!


Patrick Durusau
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!