Creating Markup Languages in XML
Prof. Peter Murray-Rust (Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics, Department of Chemistry)
2pm, Thursday October 3rd
Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Wilberforce Road.
XML allows any discipline, however small, to create an infrastructure for
exchanging information within the discipline and outside it. XML itself is
easy to learn, but the implementation of any markup language requires
careful design and often considerable investment in tools. Software - at
least proof-of-concept - should always parallel the language design.
XML is about getting groups within a discipline to agree on what their
information infrastructure is and what they want to do. In some cases this
is already clear, most frequently in regulated processes, supply chains,
and existing best practice. Sometimes the XML can be designed from communal
database schemas or form-based information interchange. In many cases,
however, especially in new and expanding multidisciplinary sciences, there
is little existing practice.
The fundamental requirements include:
community agreement (and resource) to make it work
development of communal ontologies (dictionaries)
creation of namespaces and XML Schemas
tools for creating and editing XML
converters from current (legacy) formats
domain-specific processing and rendering software (DOM and SAX)
database interfaces and stylesheets (XSLT)
In some cases (e.g. where the data are textual or simple numeric objects)
these can be met with generic software, but often they must be created
afresh or adapted from existing tools.
XML often works best when it is modularised and solutions can be borrowed
from existing domains . Thus MathML, SVG (scalable vector graphics) and
Chemical Markup Language (CML) have been designed to work independently of
the scientific application and toolkits can use all of these. With Henry
Rzepa (Imperial) we have developed STMML - a simple generic infrastructure
for Scientific/Technical/Medical applications. It is often better to solve
a small part of the problem well than to attempt too much - the experience
will be valuable and success will encourage future developments.
Demonstrations of tools will be given using some of the languages above.
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