Re: Display requirements

From: Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 16:13:45 -0400

David R. Karger wrote:

> In terms of "optimal and immediate adoption", I feel that using an RDF
> template language would be a serious drawback, if not a mistake.
> I pretty much agree. In fact, "RDF template language" is something of
> a contradiction in terms. Really, a "template" should look a lot like
> the target output (cf my previous note on scripting---or something
> like server side includes). And Wysiwyg seems really the right
> approach for a displya language. Indeed one of the biggest problems
> we encountered was that it was very hard to read/understand our rdf
> "templates."
> On the other hand, I could imagine, in various ways, using RDF to
> _annotate_ the templates with more information about how they should
> be filled in or applied...

I completely agree here. In fact, you can think at CSS as being a
declarative form of presentation metadata annotation layer. XSLT started
out like that, but it ended up adding turing complete-ness and lost the
meaning of "style" on their way up that slippery slope. [note how they
are doing it over again with xquery, shrug]

> In terms of "optimal solution and technology", I honestly have no idea.
> > We also consider it important for a view to be able to invoke
> > arbitrary code---ie, we don't assume that all presentation of data can
> > be done using the standard widgets, and we want a view to be able to
> > include its own special-purpose widgets, such as a graph-layout
> > widget, and invoke them at the right time.
> Hmmm, interesting point, but I wonder if it really applies at this
> level. I mean, in the "what" description, obviously this doesn't
> apply... but in the "how" description, well, the ability to invoque
> arbitrary code is strongly influenced by the media against which we want
> to render.
> This could be interpreted as a serious issue with a cross-media RDF
> publishing system, or simply as a known deficiency of some rendering
> media (for example, PDF which cannot invoke applets, for example).
> PDF also tends to display only things "in" the document, edited by the
> author. RDF tends more often to lead the reader along a chain of
> relationships to some unexpected resource, which we are going to need
> to (somehow) display.

I understand your distinction, but I think you are mistaken the media
"PDF" for what it is normally used for ("a paginated self-referencing
piece of content normally considered for printing").

Think about a web site that is rendered *only* on hyperlinked PDF 1.5
pages (which have form + scripting + pluging capabilities) and accessd
thru acrobat: the "shape", or "cognitive driver" of your data should be
  orthogonal of the mime-type used to render it.

Stefano Mazzocchi
Research Scientist                 Digital Libraries Research Group
Massachusetts Institute of Technology            location: E25-131C
77 Massachusetts Ave                   telephone: +1 (617) 253-1096
Cambridge, MA  02139-4307              email: stefanom at mit . edu
Received on Tue Sep 14 2004 - 20:13:39 EDT

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