Subject: Re: writing out lists sharing values
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 2000/10/05
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Barry Margolin <>
| Hmm, I wonder if the XML designers looked at Common Lisp -- those
| attributes are suspiciously very similar to #n= and #n#.

  Well, fwiw, ID and IDREF are from SGML, and not new XMLisms.  Their
  use was originally only to provide more abstract identifications of
  such things as figures, chapters, etc.

  The XML crowd has been busy reinventing Lisp for data representation
  from the start.  The reason this pointy-haired syntax ever got off
  the ground was that SGML makes a lot of sense in a very limited
  problem domain and like the madman who gets a Phoney Doctor degree
  in some irrelevant field can claim authority in any other field as
  far as the TV-commercial-consuming public is concerned, if he is so
  inclined and understands the machinery of marketing, but he is still
  a madman and XML is still a pointy-haired syntax.

  It has all the merits of a standard except that nobody is agreeing
  on what to do with it.  I haven't been able to find the one, truly
  authoritative reference on XML that isn't subject to some number of
  amendments that I'm never sure I have the complete set of, either.

  The SGML designers didn't look at programming languages.  At the
  time, they though programming languages were designed to make life
  harder for those who wanted to process documents.  It wasn't false
  at the time, but the animosity towards programmers and the desire to
  "liberate documents from the programmers" caused a number of quite
  interesting blunders, such as the incredibly botched notion of what
  constitutes ambiguous grammar productions.

  But I digress.  To answer your question: Wonder not, it wasn't so.
  The XML crowd is complete unto itself -- it does only exports, no
  imports of either data or ideas.  They're even trying to reinvent
  the web in their own image.  Of course Microsoft would embrace it.

  I think everything should be expressed in SGML or XML, though, as
  soon as we're through using it.  Let the garbage information of the
  world be encoded in XML.  At least the archeologists of the future
  will appreciate the way we poured liquid nitrogen over our data and
  preserved it for eternal posterity with a syntax wholly unsuited to
  living, evolving information.

  If this is not what you expected, please alter your expectations.