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Subject: Re: [office] ISO 14977 EBNF grammar


David A. Wheeler wrote:
> Patrick Durusau:
>> After reading ISO 14977 again (actually more than once), it seems to me 
>> that we are straining without just cause.
> What's the strain?  There are several viable alternatives.
> I've provided evidence that the W3C alternative is the best for
> OpenFormula's purposes, and that may be true for others as well.
> W3C's is designed for XML, and OpenDocument is XML-based, so
> it's quite defensible in use.  The ISO format COULD be used, sure.
> The, excess, commas, required, by, ISO, are, quite, annoying,
> when, you, have, a, number, of, productions.
By strain I meant that we are making more out of the difficulty of using 
the ISO EBNF syntax than it need be.

OK, it uses a lot of commas, hardly seems like a crime to me.

The distinction we are dancing around is the "pragmatic good enough" of 
the W3C and a really format definition, which what I think you have with 
ISO 14977.

Sure, I don't deny that you can write really useful grammars using the 
W3C style and lots of people have done it. That doesn't mean that avoids 
the rule in ISO that we should use ISO standards without compelling 
justification to the contrary.
> I also think the W3C's format is also MUCH more commonly used
> than ISO's format; I present as evidence:
> * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backus-Naur_form
>    which uses "::=" for defining and does NOT use "," for concatenation
> * http://cui.unige.ch/db-research/Enseignement/analyseinfo/BNFweb.html
>    a big database about programming languages using BNF.
>    Again, uses "::=" for defining and does NOT use "," for concatenation
> I would rather use the standard format for BNF instead of ISO's format :-).
Oh my! Dueling Wiki entries:



> The paper you pointed me to is unconvincing.  The ISO format
> is carefully designed to add lots of extra gunk so that indentation need
> not be meaningful.  Yet increasingly meaningful indentation is being seen
> as a good thing (e.g., see Python and Haskell); it appears they're working
> from an obsolete spec.
;-) I don't think that Python and Haskell (although I am studying the 
latter for unrelated reasons) really qualify as world-wide movements.
>> True, I think it requires us 
>> to define what we mean by Unicode character, but having done so (I 
>> suggest we simply copy the Unicode definition), all we need do is supply 
>> a defined start and end for a sequence.
> Yes, the lack of range operators can be worked around by using prose
> to describe start/end sequences.
Err, no, can't we define the start and end sequences in the EBNF?

I don't really care that much except that I don't want to be met with a 
legitimate objection, non-use of ISO 14977 when my only defense is that 
"everybody else is doing W3C." I last heard that "reason" when I was in 
about the 2nd or 3rd grade.

Give me something more than aesthetics (too many commas) or everybody 
likes W3C, or indentation is good, etc., and if the TC backs it I will 
find a way to get ISO to accept it. But it has to be something 
convincing to people who don't already agree. That isn't a very good 
test for an argument. ;-)

Hope you are having a great day!


PS: Any more basis stuff? Not that I have time this week, I am trying to 
finish inserting references in the draft so testing of adding 
auto-generated content can begin.
> --- David A. Wheeler
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Patrick Durusau
Chair, V1 - US TAG to JTC 1/SC 34
Convener, JTC 1/SC 34/WG 3 (Topic Maps)
Editor, OpenDocument Format TC (OASIS), Project Editor ISO/IEC 26300
Co-Editor, ISO/IEC 13250-1, 13250-5 (Topic Maps)

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