Re: Moving to HTML, take II

Subject: Re: Moving to HTML, take II
From: Mark Baker <mbaker -at- OMNIMARK -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 19:26:58 -0500

Geoff Hart wrote

>Since SGML is nothing more than ASCII markup
>text, you could theoretically do it on your own without an authoring
>tool, but this would be equivalent to (but far more difficult than)
>writing Windows help files directly in RTF using Notepad, without
>any training. Sure, it can be done, but unless you're a masochist...

Wow! Those of us who have been composing HTML by hand all these years must
all be real geniuses then. A well designed SGML markup language is, or
should be, easy to write by hand. That was a key design goal of SGML and one
of the things that the designers did a reasonable good job of.

Like many large standards, learning all of the properties of SGML is
difficult, but learning the subset that is actually useful for 99% of
everything you would really want to do with it is quite simple. In fact, if
you learn XML, then it is about three more hours work to learn short
references and tag omission and you have all the SGML you need to know to
create SGML tagging languages that are easy to write.

But you don't need to know anything at all about creating SGML tagging
languages in order to use them. We have all been using HTML -- an SGML
tagging language -- for years without most of us knowing a thing about SGML.

In my experience, those who have actually tried it, using properly designed
tagging languages, have no trouble writing SGML and often prefer it to
wrestling with Frame or Word. If you can write HTML you will be able to
write most well designed SGML tagging languages, especially since HTML isn't
especially well designed.

Writing RTF by hand to build a win help application would be virtually
impossible. On the other hand, one could fairly easily create an SGML
language for this purpose that would be dead simple to write in. The all you
would need to do would be to write an OmniMark program to translate that
SGML language into RTF for the help compiler.

Mark Baker
Manager, Technical Communication
OmniMark Technologies Corporation
1400 Blair Place
Gloucester, Ontario
Canada, K1J 9B8
Phone: 613-745-4242
Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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