Re: [Json] Nudging the English-language vs. formalisms discussion forward

Andrew Newton <> Wed, 19 February 2014 22:24 UTC

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Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2014 17:23:55 -0500
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From: Andrew Newton <>
To: Tim Bray <>
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Cc: Nico Williams <>, Phillip Hallam-Baker <>, Paul Hoffman <>, JSON WG <>
Subject: Re: [Json] Nudging the English-language vs. formalisms discussion forward
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On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM, Tim Bray <> wrote:
> I think clear English prose is *essential*, the one thing a specification
> must have. Thus, schemas can be actively harmful if arguing over them
> distracts attention from crafting the prose properly.  This is particularly
> the case when the schema language is a flawed tool, which so many of them
> are.

I agree, clear English prose are essential. At the moment, I am
evaluating two competing security protocols, both open standards
specified with XML Schema of which one is the product of an IETF
working group. The IETF standard is much clearer to understand because
it offers prose on top of the XSD. I cannot help but think that the
reason the IETF standard stands out is simply because it is an IETF
standard; along the way to RFC it was reviewed and reviewed and people
simply would not have let it pass had it been only an XSD. Therefore I
do not think we need to worry about IETF specifications being harmed
by schemas.