Re: Generic Tagging: A Modest Proposal

From: Martin J. Duerst (
Date: Wed Jul 16 1997 - 11:55:39 EDT

On Tue, 15 Jul 1997, Kenneth Whistler wrote:

> What you may be missing here is that the tagging
> proposal is deliberately limited because there already
> are open-ended tagging mechanisms available: SGML,
> and its kith, HTML, XML, etc. When new types of
> meta-information pop out of the woodwork, SGML and
> XML can easily generate new tags for them.
> The Plane 14 proposal is to address a limited requirement
> for in-band tagging that is "lighter-weight" than SGML
> or text/extended, etc., mostly for Internet protocol development,
> and mostly for language tagging. It is aimed at
> removing barriers to the universal use of Unicode on
> the Internet, rather than at encouraging the use of
> these kinds of tags when well-defined alternatives are
> available.

The claim that the current proposal is "lighter-weight",
or at least that it is significantly lighter-weight as to
invent a new scheme, when compared to proposals identical
or close to text/enriched or to SGML derivatives, has been
made by the original proponents of MLSF (which started all
this discussion and work) and is repeated again in the
current plane 14 proposal. But there is not very much in
terms of real evidence or discussion to support this claim.

Code I have written for draft-ietf-acap-langtag-00.txt,
on the other side, suggests that for the operations typical
for an Internet protocol (i.e. encoding and decoding to/from
internal representation), the text/enriched//SGML-like proposals
are easier to handle, in particular because the tags themselves
do not have to be packed and unpacked. In particular, in the
conversion from any of my proposals to/from MLSF, the code
with the highest complexity, and highest chance for making
errors, lies in the en/decoding of the ASCII language tags
into the MLSF-specific representation. Although I have
not worked this out, I highly suspect that something similar
applies to the plane 14 proposal.

I hope that the current proposal can be updated so that it
discusses and supports with the necessary depth its claim
of "leightweightness".

Regards, Martin.

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