Towards a Semantics for XML Markup

Allen Renear, David Dubin, C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, Claus Huitfeldt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Although XML Document Type Definitions provide a mechanism for specifying, in machine-readable form, the syntax of an XML markup language, there is no comparable mechanism for specifying the semantics of an XML vocabulary. That is, there is no way to characterize the meaning of XML markup so that the facts and relationships represented by the occurrence of XML constructs can be explicitly, comprehensively, and mechanically identified. This has serious practical and theoretical consequences. On the positive side, XML constructs can be assigned arbitrary semantics and used in application areas not foreseen by the original designers. On the less positive side, both content developers and application engineers must rely upon prose documentation, or, worse, conjectures about the intention of the markup language designer - a process that is time-consuming, error-prone, incomplete, and unverifiable, even when the language designer properly documents the language. In addition, the lack of a substantial body of research in markup semantics means that digital document processing is undertheorized as an engineering application area. Although there are some related projects underway (XML Schema, RDF, the Semantic Web) which provide relevant results, none of these projects directly and comprehensively address the core problems of XML markup semantics. This paper (i) summarizes the history of the concept of markup meaning, (ii) characterizes the specific problems that motivate the need for a formal semantics for XML and (iii) describes an ongoing research project - the BECHAMEL Markup Semantics Project - that is attempting to develop such a semantics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2002 ACM Symposium on Document Engineering
EditorsR. Furuta, J.I. Maletic, E. Munson, R. Furuta, J.I. Maletic, E. Munson
Pages119-126
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
EventProceedings of the 2002 ACM Symposium on Document Engineering in Conjunction with 11th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2002) - Mclean, VA, United States
Duration: Nov 8 2002Nov 9 2002

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 2002 ACM Symposium on Document Engineering

Other

OtherProceedings of the 2002 ACM Symposium on Document Engineering in Conjunction with 11th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2002)
CountryUnited States
CityMclean, VA
Period11/8/0211/9/02

Keywords

  • Knowledge Representation
  • Markup
  • SGML
  • Semantics
  • XML

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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  • Cite this

    Renear, A., Dubin, D., Sperberg-McQueen, C. M., & Huitfeldt, C. (2002). Towards a Semantics for XML Markup. In R. Furuta, J. I. Maletic, E. Munson, R. Furuta, J. I. Maletic, & E. Munson (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2002 ACM Symposium on Document Engineering (pp. 119-126). (Proceedings of the 2002 ACM Symposium on Document Engineering).