From semantic markup to semantic authoring


prodoc helps me make sense of the world. Markup brings ergonomic efficiencies to the typing process. Semantic markup brings ergonomic efficiencies to the thinking process, especially when concepts and logic systems can be visualized in different ways.

 --Test subject

Most semantic markup systems are organized around the idea of collaborative authoring and publishing. An organization-specific markup language is defined as a doctype with a set of rules that describe the names and relationships of the various containers. Everyone in the group works within those rules, which function as quality standards.

Doctypes are designed to standardize documents and protect publishing systems. The structural rules, which are described using an explicit schema language, typically change very slowly to ensure consistency of work processes. Standardized stylesheets are usually part of the equation.

Semantic authoring inverts this thinking.

Authors are the semantic authorities, they should have all the operational authorizations available to author semantic markup as they deem appropriate, as easily as possible. Every doctype should allow authors to use the internal declaration subset to enable bottom-up formalization and communication of models, in addition to content.

Semantic authoring is about creating documents that help authors make sense of the world. It lets individuals create semantic markup to formalize their conceptual frameworks. Once formalized, these sense making systems are easier to reuse, communicate, and automate.

Reducing the incremental costs of new markup means document-level extensions, making every document a little markup language laboratory The idea of little languages comes from AT&T's development of the UNIX operating system, where little languages and little bots were developed for managing the streams of text associated with managing telecommunication systems in the 1970s.

Semantic authoring doctypes leverage the Internal Declaration Subset, which is a mechanism for authors to create their own markup declarations. This allows new elements and attributes to be declared within any document. They can even be used within the current document, if the rules of the doctype allow.

prodoc was built on an HTML core (HTML for semantic authoring: hsa.dtd), but comparable semantic authoring extensions could be incorporated into other doctypes. Adding semantic authoring extensions to a DITA subset have been discussed, for example.

Why open Pandora's Box? What chaos would ensue?