Declarative Amsterdam

On the representation of abstractions

Data is an abstraction. In order to transfer it or talk about it, the abstraction has to be represented using some notation. The design of notations is a neglected area of study, yet the designs affect both what you can represent, and what you can do with what is being represented. XML is currently the most suitable and flexible of the available notations for representing data abstractions, and yet it has restrictions and some shortcomings that get in the way of properly representing abstractions. This paper discusses the issues, and reflects on which aspects of XML get in the way of abstractions.
Presentation, 8 November 2022

Steven Pemberton is a researcher affiliated with CWI Amsterdam, the Dutch national research centre for mathematics and informatics. His research is in interaction, and how the underlying software architecture can support users. He co-designed the ABC programming language that formed the basis for Python. Involved with the Web from the beginning, he organised two workshops at the first Web Conference in 1994. For the best part of a decade he chaired the W3C HTML working group, and has co-authored many web standards, including HTML, XHTML, CSS, XForms and RDFa. He now chairs the XForms and ixml groups at W3C. This year he was awarded the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Practice Award.