Re: real solutions
> I have to agree.
I beg to disagree. :-)
%People think that
> because XML doesn't have binary byte
> codes, it must be easy to edit.
I do not think anything of that kind. As a matter of fact I do not think anyone - that does not feel so inclined - should be hand editing XML conf files.
If ASCII is your cup of tea, the config system should provide a way to compile *and* decompile from XML to ASCII (or better, UTF-8, another good reason for looking at XML - 7 bit days are numbered, guys). And tools that make easy to avoid syntax errors should be provided, too; other pointed out that tools for easy XML editing are also available (after all, very few use HEX editors on text files).
Tripwire does this already. Sendmail (horrors!) does this already - I configure it by running m4 mysite.mc > mysite.cf and never EVER touch the cf itself - that one should do so is a common misconception, but a misconception all the same.
> [...] like how BIND
> does it for named.conf, as an example).
Funny that you should bring BIND up... I have forgotten how many times I stuffed named.conf by forgetting a strategical ';' or how many times I had to lookup the format for a list in that lovely BNF-oriented documentation... Better then named.boot, no quarrel here - named.boot was horrible anyway -and an improvement over UUCP and INN, but I see plenty of room from improvement.
> XML is also adding ambiguity when you
> look at how different people are using
> it, where some 'data' is in
> the document part (between tags) and in
> the 'meta' part (inside the
XML has nothing to do with this. DTD and schemas have all to do with this (and they are of course part of the desing of any XML project). BizTalk (just an example) puts zilch in what you call 'Document part'. As a matter of fact, I doubt that BizTalk has nary a CDATA tag (but I might be wrong). SOAP is also very clear about this kind of stuff.
> XML was based on syntax intended
> as markup for documents (e.g. text and
> other renderable objects).
This is simply untrue. It would be less than true even if you replaced "XML" with "SGML" or - egads! - "HTML" (which used to beconcerned above all with document structure - Remember the good ole Mosaic days? - that was before <BLINK>, of course.)
XML was designed from inception with data (also) in mind - and the fact that this kind of comments are still possible just goes to show that this fact has not been made clear enough.
> It makes a
> lousy data language, by taking the worst
> of things.
In fact XML has done something that is much more powerful than telling people where to put angulars.
It has showed, in a very compelling way, that "the parser is the document" - which is exactly the reason why its use should be promoted.
And because of this - back to the main subject of conversation - physical XML need not even exist, where serialization is not an issue. All plugins writer must provide is a SAX event stream - AKA a SAX parser.