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From George_Carre...@iacnet.com
Subject what about using XML for the syntax of configuration files?
Date Thu, 12 Feb 1998 21:09:09 GMT
Ever notice that the format of httpd.conf is <almost>XXXX</almost>
a totally markup-format?

Ever ask what impact XML might have on the Apache project?

Well, if the httpd.conf were totally markup format it would make it easier for 
programs
to read and write, and for humans to document all the configuration
elements and attribute names in the form of an SGML DTD.
(Somebody like me is plenty handy enough with SGML/XML to
write a config file DTD in an hour or two).

James Clark has an XML parser at ftp://ftp.jclark.com/xml
which is small enough to be of practical to use.
In my humble experience such general but simple parsers
are in fact smaller in source code overhead than 
most "evolved" complex init file formats are.

Obviously one would provide a conversion program from old-style
to new style.

I mention this now because I've been hearing people talk about
writing GUI configuration interfaces for the apache httpd.conf

If a configuration database (file) was represented in XML,
http://www.w3.org/xml
then the obvious way to manipulate the database would be
through the Document Object Model (DOM) api,
http://www.w3.org/dom

But you don't really have to wait for a DOM to do the work.

Also in my humble opinion this XML and DOM stuff is the
most important stuff to come out of the W3, and much more interesting
than any "next generation" HTTP-NG, at least in the next 3 or 4 years.

With XML and DOM the W3 is playing piggy back (standing
on the shoulders of giants) on years of work from the SGML
and Hytime community. There is a lot of "there" in "there" if you
know what I mean.

HTTP will remain the way to get data. And XML will be the
network representation, as sub-optimal as it is, for
complex objects. Or perhaps the computer science
people will want us to call them  complex data structures,
and not use the term object, which is a higher class buzzword,

But object, or data structure, who cares as long as it gets
the job done.


-gjc

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