Brooke Smith (
Tue, 3 Oct 1995 18:43:58 +1000 (EST)


I have been investigation customisation of web documents and I realised
not long ago that I should inspect SGML. I have seen a product called
Omnimark that uses a SGML DTD and translation code to convert the
SGML document to whatever format (through translation). For instance,
how I saw this being used would be a common useage, is to hold
information in SGML which has tagging and attributes that describe
everything about the document. Then Omnimark can be used to translate
that into the less descriptive HTML (or whatever).

I can see the advantages that Omnimark or a similar tool could
play in customisation of web documents, and there could really be a place
for SGML Web browsers over just HTML browsers.

The idea is that documents sent over the web don't necessarily have to
conform to some DTD, such as the HTML one, but instead the DTD and an
associated translating program could be sent along with it and the SGML
parser would render the document according to the DTD and translator. I
would guess that there would be common formats such as HTML X so that
only when that common format is updated does a new DTD and program
need to be sent.

This way there would be no need to agree on a static HTML standard, but
could instead just have agreement on what would be in the next release.
The content type would specify which version is being used, and if that
versions DTD and program aren't available locally then they will always
be at and mirrored sites.

I think this is an idea to play with and wonder why it hasn't been
discussed before - maybe it has and there is a reason to stick to static
html documents.

I would like feedback on this idea since I know this would make the
creation of customised documents that much easier and I will probably
persue the idea after my thesis has been submitted (but would like to
talk about the idea in the thesis).

Thanks for reading,

Brooke Benjamin Oehm Smith
Honours '95 Sydney University Computer Science
URL: <>

"Once something's been approved by the government it's no longer immoral." Reverend Lovejoy, The Simpsons.