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Subject: Re: [office] The Rule of Least Power

On Wednesday 11. February 2009 21:38:45 ext robert_weir@us.ibm.com wrote:
> It is paradoxical, but the "most powerful" extensibility mechanism is not
> always the best.  

As a programmer I don't think this is paradoxical; the rule of most powerful 
is not one looks at when choosing a language.
In programming you find a language based on various criteria and powerful is 
not nearly the most important one.
A friend of mine made the observation that perl is a write only language. 
Readability is near zero. I can see his point as perl programs may be quite 
obfuscated.  Criteria like readability, portability (runs everywhere) etc are 
more important in most cases.

> Certainly arbitrary memory pointers in C are more 
> powerful than object references in Java.  But this is a hindrance and a
> liability unless you need that particular power in pointers

The liability comes from the fact that it becomes harder to read. Which means 
harder to debug and thus you make more mistakes.
I can totally follow your programming argument, I'm just not sure how well 
this maps to ODF. The proposal of using some sort of extention concept 
instead of the xml-native concept of namespaces makes things harder to write, 
maintain and read. Which means that in my mind its more complex to have 
extentions and the resulting costs are high in implementations.
And not extending the xml way also make ODF less powerful; so its a loss on 
all fronts.

> , i.e., in the 
> DOS days when we could write directly to video RAM at a fixed address.
> Bringing out the nuclear death ray gun every time you want to swat a fly
> will eventually get you in trouble.

The big difference between your line of thought in C and DOS is that XML has 
been designed with extensibility in mind.  The concept is a first class 
citizen. And your proposal is an attempt to remove that concept based on the 
reasoning that its too powerful and thus too complex to wield. But this 
reasoning valid in C and DOS just doesn't apply to XML.

Thefore your line of reasoning and your usage of "nuclear death ray gun" is 
confusing the issues and distracting from the fact that your proposal tries 
to remove from ODF-XML its native feature of extensibility.

I've asked in another mail for your reason to drive this proposal. Please give 
a usecase where the current ODF conformity clause will give us headaces. I 
don't see them and I will never be convinced to take away useful and good 
features unless I see a good reason where it ends up hurting more.
Thomas Zander

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