The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0306 Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Date: Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Subject: XML (eXtensible Markup Language)
In the previous digest -- SHK 19.0305 A Problem of Access -- Michael
Best makes a plea for the use of XML (eXtensible Markup Language) as a
means of responding to the "threat that future changes in technology
will render earlier forms of electronic data" because XML is "a format
that will be reliably modified to work on any future system." Michael
then goes on by noting the following:
"We use the standard XML (eXtensible Markup Language) because its
structure includes information on what the encoding means as well as the
encoding itself. In Gabriel Egan's phrase, the files are "self-
descriptive." Thus, future computers and future software may need
different instructions in order to display the texts correctly, but all
that will need to be changed will be the process, not the basic texts
themselves. Changing the process will of course cost money in
programming time, so we will just have to put the same kind of effort
into keeping the e-texts current as we do into keeping libraries at a
Michael's observation raises a number of questions.
I current use Office 2007, whose default standard is now a version of
XML; however, I have set my option to save files in the Office 2003
standard for capability with other users (for example, I use "*.doc"
rather than "*.docx).
One of my reasons has to do with my experience with Microsoft's version
of HTML. When I save a document using "Save as HTML" I generally have a
great deal of extraneous code that Microsoft includes that I need to
remove to have a clean HTML document. So my first question is do Office
2007's files in XML save to "a format that will be reliably modified to
work on any future system"? In other words, is there the same problem
with Microsoft's XML standard as there is with its HTML standard?
My second question is to Michael: How are files for the Internet
Shakespeare Editions encoded into XML? Are they encoded manually or do
you use a program to perform the encoding? And if so, what is that
program or what is the process?
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