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From Donald Ball <>
Subject Re: Documentation grammars, was:[Re: [RT] latest wonderings around W3C land and surroundings]
Date Fri, 31 Mar 2000 20:34:34 GMT
On Fri, 31 Mar 2000, Mike Pogue wrote:

> > I find this unfair and utterly offensive.
> > 
> > The Cocoon project was created with _no_ absolute whatsoever knowledge
> > about the DTD that is being processed and _there_ is no absolute way we
> > can force one DTD to be the only one recognized. The Cocoon architecture
> > was _designed_ to be abstracted and it's power is and will always remain
> > its abstraction.
> > 
> > If you believe we can possibly think about changing this, it's easier
> > that you say that I'm a total idiot, because that is what your sentence
> > meant to me.
> Sorry, didn't mean it that way.  IMHO, both Stylebook and Cocoon are
> dangerously close to having an "Official DTD".  My evidence?  How many
> alternate DTD's do we have?  Few. How many site styles do we have?  
> Few.  And, all the styles that we do have look pretty much alike
> (hierarchical nav bar on the left, composited banner at the top,
> copyright at the bottom, etc.)  I'd say that's strong evidence that we
> don't have ENOUGH diversity, ENOUGH randomness, and ENOUGH wasted
> energy, and we probably have too much Cathedral building going on
> here.
> It's not just Cocoon (hey, chill out, will ya?!), it's Stylebook, too
> (re-read my quote above -- I'm commenting on both of them).

Hold up. You're saying that cocoon is close to having an official DTD. I
hope you mean strictly for internal documentation. If so, then what's the
problem? We have to agree on a common language or else we can't
communicate effectively. If you have suggestions for altering the DTD (and
documentation to contribute that can only be expressed in the new DTD),
speak up by all means, we're all ears.

If you mean that sites that use cocoon all share the same style - I beg to
differ. I've deployed at least half a dozen sites that use cocoon to style
part or all of themselves, and they differ wildly from each other, both in
terms of internal DTD and in terms of the interface they present to the

If you're saying that the web as a whole has too few site styles - well,
your criticism isn't of cocoon, then, but the web publishing industry as a
whole. However, site navigation strategies evolved to the handful of
paradigms we see today because those were the most effective given the
constraints of the era. Perhaps as the constraints change (as we are given
new tools like cocoon) more successful strategies will evolve. We'll see.
I will say, though - one of the things that irritates me about "new media"
like Wired magazine is the way they screw with traditional layout rules.
Sure, it's fun to be hip and different, but those layout rules evolved
because they proved to be an effective way to convey information, and not
obeying those rules makes the information parsing task more difficult for
the reader. 

Final bit of rant, completely offtopic - what is it with this bazaar v.s.
cathedral dichotomy? How come there's only room for two programming
methodologies, and how come the "cathedral builder" cry is viewed so
negatively? I would suggest that the cocoon project sometimes favors the
monastary approach. The bazaar is a great place to share and test ideas
but a terrible place to develop them - too noisy and crowded. Sometimes we
need to retreat to the monastary to work on a problem in some peace and
quiet before it's ready to face the competitive world of the bazaar.

- donald should be doing work right about now

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