Thursday 30 October 2003 — This is over 19 years old. Be careful.
Programming with Circles, Triangles and Rectangles is an interesting paper about integrating XML and its data model into programming language, introducing a language called Xen (good name!) as a demonstration.
Once you do, you get a long pause while the document is transformed, and then you see a page that looks like the state of the art circa 1996. After all that, I would have hoped at least to have some interesting effects, some unusual interaction, some truly beautiful typography. I got none of those things.
Why is there a client-side transform here in the first place? This is a large paper, 66K of XML, and it’s totally static. It’s the worst possible document to create with a client-side transform. Every reader will perform exactly the same computation to produce exactly the same page. Why not do the transform once, and then publish the HTML? And if you do need a client-side transform, why use a proprietary mechanism? Much simpler techniques (no coding required) are available that work in most modern browsers.
So in my effort to read what these clever guys have to say about using XML well in programming languages, I’m forced to confront the boneheaded XML decisions they made to get their paper on the web. Looking at the XSLT transform, it looks like the result of a publishing tool, but that doesn’t let them off the hook. It doesn’t bode well for the rest of their ideas...
Updated: Ted Leung points to a vanilla HTML version of the paper.
So, they used this format because the conference required it. Yes, they should have put the resultant static HTML document on their web site. But the authors aren't the original culprits here.
The fact remains that it was hard for me to read the paper, and it didn't have to be. I publish this blog in both HTML and RSS format. Why can't they publish their paper in both HTML and XML?
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