[LINK] Proprietary formats are evil [was: Re: XML is evil

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Fri Nov 21 10:36:11 AEDT 2008

Rick Welykochy wrote:
> Richard Chirgwin wrote:
>> "Unrecognised tag" was the error, IFIRC...
>> Yes, I realise this is bad implementation, rather than a problem
>> intrinsic to XML.
> and
>>>> while someone in another part of the development team says "let's
>>>> add a new
>>>> tag", and the parser doesn't work;
>>> why would the parser stop working?
> This sounds like it was a validating parser, i.e. it had
> a copy of the DTD and enforced it. The DTD must be updated
> if new tags are added.
I would guess so to. I presume the parser validates because it's
designed to put stuff in database tables.

Actually, OpenStreet Map is fast becoming my exemplar of "how not to do
open". It has a validating parser, but you have to create the database
tables pretty much by hand before you start. And the XML-to-MySQL has
problems all over the place; and (for example), having created a large
bunch of database tables, you then have to ditch the tables because the
parser doesn't know about delete-before-add ... and various other stuff
that would bore you as much as it bored me.
> XML can be forced to parse and do its job in a case like this
> by either turning off validation or hiding the DTD from the parser.
> BTW: this thread makes me think of a new one:
>    Subject: [LINK] Proprietary formats are evil
> At least XML is an open format and you *can* figure out what is
> in the data with a bit of effort.
> Richard, imagine if the data you had downloaded was in Lotus 1-2-3
> format (c. 1980's). How would you even read it?
I entirely agree. Wherever possible I try to remember to grab data into
an open format.

Open formats are vital, but users have to be prepared to choose formats
suitable to the task.

> Be aware that programs like Excel *might* import legacy formats like
> Lotus 1-2-3, but the provider of the software to accomplish this task
> can drop such support from their software suite at their whim and leave
> you high and dry.
> cheers
> rickw

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