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Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful

Subject: Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful
From: "Jelks Cabaniss" <jelks@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 00:54:57 -0400

Guy Murphy wrote:

> If the semantics used are not free, then using FOs gives a company a safe
> wall here, a semantic firewall if you like.

Do they?  How?  Or does using FOs not just make it a little extra work to get at
the semantics?

(As an aside, this is reminiscent of the never-ending question in the
c.i.w.a.html newsgroup, "How do I hide my source?".  And you'll find the
occasional web page with something like

	<!-- Encrypted by Joe's HTML mangler ^&\?+%$@^*()! ... -->

where you have to scroll down 20 screenfulls to see the real source... )

> In many cases, it simply will not be relevent. And the end user will not
> care. All they will care about is what's infront of their eyes.

What if those "eyes" belong to indexing robots or other such programs?

> I mentioned it once before, but it warrants mentioning again within this
> context, that publishing of XML on the Net, along with easy transformation
> making data theft untraceable makes corporate data *very* vulnerable on the
> Net to being syphoned off and repackaged. Unless you can provide companies
> with at least the method of keeping hold safely of they semantic
> organisation and management of data (the things that allow them competitive
> advantage in accruing data), *their data will not go on the Net*.

So use FOs for copyright protection and/or distribution management???

It won't work.  If the data is visible, it's vulnerable (even if your "FO" were
a GIF -- to take an extreme example --, it could be OCRed).  All FOs, GIFs, FONT
tags, table cells, etc. are doing is making the data a little harder to get at.
And making a lot of people mad. :)

If it's only parts of the source document that contain the sensitive data, just
could use XSLT (as one option) to deliver transformed but semantically rich XML,
with a linked style sheet -- sans the offending material.

> I would say that the Net *is* balkanized at the moment, in that it isn't
> getting the high quality structured data. I would like to see that changed.

I completely agree.  I just don't see how FOs are "high quality structured


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