Christopher Currie writes,
``To design a standard first, and then leave users or commercial
companies to work out how to implement it conveniently, is to
ensure that it won't be as widely used as it should be.''
Yet--this is precisely how MOST standards are designed. The reason is
that no commercial software developer is going to build software for
something that isn't ALREADY a standard. If they did they would have to
continually revise it as changes in the drafts of the standard were being
made. It would also be unmarketable UNTIL the standard was approved....
I.e., would YOU buy software for a ``proposed'' standard that might be
changed perhaps so completely that your software wouldn't be useful?
Probably ONLY if it were being proposed by a hardware manufacturer---
but even then it isn't safe (Remember Betamax!).
It took a decade for SGML to be developed and publicized. The ONLY
reason you are considering software now is that it has been a standard
for a few years and people are beginning to use it. The software
potential is considerable since SGML is a higher standard than
all existing text formatting non-standards (that is, it can be
translated down into any of them, but they cannot be translated up into
SGML without human reconsideration (e.g. why `italics'?)).
SGML also seems capable of conversion into database formats and
directly usable in text retrieval tasks.