Re: New Project Proposal (or not..)

Stephen Rust <> writes:

> On Thu, 25 Mar 1999, Daniel M. German wrote:
> I guess my main goal of the project was to have something similar to a
> 'netscape composer' type of feel, where you throw some text on a screen,
> format it around the page like you want, with colors, borders, tables,
> type of things, and then be able to export it to a lot of different
> formats like the sgmltools provide capability of.  I agree, supporting the
> whole SGML language would be quite a task.  And I've read that XML is sort
> of like a re-birth of SGML, with possibility for some widespread
> acceptance, so maybe that is the way to go.  

The whole point of SGML is to allow you to create languages that
support logical, rather than physical formatting. In a typical SGML
DTD, you wouldn't make some text "italic", you would mark it up as
"foreign text" or a "citation" or whatever the logical meaning of the
alternate typeface is. The style sheet to that document would
determine how that markup was actually renedered. The point of this is
that you can easily change the layout, style, typefaces &c of a
complete document very easily, just by changing the style sheet,
instead of having to go back to each bit of title text and change the
style, each bit of paragraph text and change the style, each first
line of a chapter and change the style, and so forth, like people do
when reformatting a Microsoft Word document. This is why people that
write multiple hundred page manuals use SGML (or LaTeX, or any of a
number of other logical markup tools) instead of something like
Microsoft Word.

Thus, an SGML editor that does physical instead of logical formatting
like you have described, is inherently somewhat pointless.

This is not to say that a general-purpose SGML editor would not be a
useful thing, but the formatting you do should be based on logical
markup, and rendering should be based on a style sheet. See Doczilla
for an example of a product (based on the Mozilla code even) to
support something like this for SGML and XML documents.

As another note, a general SGML editor does not need to support just
one language, it has to support arbitrarySGML DTDs, each of which is a
different markup langauge, to be really useful.

 - Maciej Stachowiak

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