[tei-council] Towards some guidelines for the maintenance of P5

Sebastian Rahtz sebastian.rahtz at oucs.ox.ac.uk
Sat Jul 15 14:29:43 EDT 2006

David J Birnbaum wrote:
> In any case, I did find http://www.tei-c.org/Vault/ED/edp01.gml, which 
> is apparently a later, edited version of the Poughkeepsie Principles. 
> This document says, among other things: "The Text Encoding Initiative 
> will develop a conforming SGML application, if it can meet the needs 
> of researchers by doing so. Where research needs require constructs 
> unavailable with SGML, however, research must take precedence over the 
> standard." 
We have a research need, to encode text; we assess whether XML/SGML is 
of the job. If we decide it is, then we work within it; if we decide it 
is not, we define our own text markup.
The Founding Fathers backed away from the latter choice, probably 
wisely. But back then, it was a binary
choice, either to SGML or to SGML. Now its a bit more complex, in that 
XML is in two parts - well-formedness
and validity, and validity itself is a much more fluid concept. There 
are no proposals on the table
(I think) to stop using XML syntax for the TEI, but what is much more 
doubtful is the mechanisms
by which we describe our rules about how to combine things together.

So, lets just bear in mind the (big) differences between

 1. a change which means that texts no longer even use the same syntax
 2. a change which means that elements of the TEI change, die or are born
 3. a change which affects whether a given instance is valid TEI
 4. a change which means that the language in which we express rules changes

to take an extreme case, P6 could throw away schemas and DTDs, and have 
a free-standing
bit of software which checked whether our XML documents were genuine 
TEI, completely
ignoring XML concepts of validity.

just musing.

Sebastian Rahtz      

Information Manager, Oxford University Computing Services
13 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN. Phone +44 1865 283431

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