A blast from the past
by Rick Jelliffe
Seminar" with speakers from NECTEC, CompTIA and Microsoft, with me as Dr Strangelove. James Clark has threatened to be there and ask hard questions: scary! He lives in Thailand has been promoting open source software there for several years.
Going over the
I remember Dave Peterson suggesting that tables as we know them (HTML-style, CALS-style) were bad because they mixed presentation with content, for example: instead the data should be maintained in a separate semantical structure, and included by reference; so in SpreadsheetML, data and strings can be maintained separately.
Elliot Kimber has often argued that there are many "difficult" problems with handling large dynamic document sets that go away with a suitable, simple indirection method: hence his XIndirect, and indeed OASIS SGML/XML catalogs and even ISO DSDL's Document Schema Renaming Language (DSRL) which comes through Martin Bryan; the relationship system in the Open Packaging Conventions seem similar.
It is an interesting thought, though: at what point of complexity/maintainability does it become a requirement to add extra levels of indirection? I can see that both extremes are appealing: the one that says "just make do with simplicity" and the other that says "build in moderate indirection because it is easier to have it there when you need it and impossible to retrofit."
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It has something to do with address maintenance and energy costs (where energy is not electricity but some measure of effort). One question to ask (an old one), where do you declare structures, ideas, concepts, addressable units to be atomic (no outbound references; all references are inbound). It varies by system and language and application, but the concept should be reasonably the same in all document systems. Is there a heat or thermodynamic component that makes one preferable to another?