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XML Hacks by Michael Fitzgerald

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From Wiki to XML, Through SGML

Wikis are nice for typing. XML is nice for processing. SGML is a standard language for specifying conversions from one to the other.

Wikis exploded onto the scene in the late 1990s but have been quieter recently. A Wiki is a site written using a very simplified syntax without tags (e.g., a blank line means start a new paragraph). The nice thing about Wiki formats is that they reduce the number of keystrokes needed to mark up a document (to the level of very simple HTML) to the same number as a nice, swanky, custom application needs. Today I am writing this in Mozilla Composer: in order to put in a link I need to type ^L to open the link editor, type the text, then Tab, then the URL, then Enter: three characters overhead. In a Wiki, I type [ and then the text, a > character followed by the URL, and then ]. Pretty much identical to Mozilla Composer, but with the advantage that one doesn’t need to learn any special keystrokes or customize an editor to cope with them.

WikiWikiWeb (http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiWikiWeb) provides a simple rich text format based on visual cues rather than HTML tags. This is convenient for hand editing and has the virtue that the raw text gives a rough indication of the formatted text. Wiki-like syntaxes are useful, for example, for creating documents in mail programs or PDAs, where terseness is important and there is no well-formedness checking or validation available.

SGML: A Language for Describing Wikis

Now that Wiki and ...

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