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[REBOL] designing dialects - was OWL

From: robbo1mark:aol at: 21-Mar-2002 9:53

Sunanda, The Web Ontology Language is NOT a ntural for REBOL. It IS however a natural for a DIALECTING and ONTOLOGY language. I've been thinking a bit about this recently and especially as I consider XML / HTML to be verbose, not human centric in design, wasteful! why have closing tags for every value. Let me explain abit more about what I mean. An Extensible Dialecting and Ontology Language should not be REBOL. REBOL is a vendor specific programming or messaging language and it is proprietary. A web dialect and ontology language should be programming language neutral. It is my contention that DIALECTS ARE NOT REBOL in as much as a well designed dialect should be a means for describing and encapsulating data and information about a particular topic, application or area of specific interest in a language which is natural for the matter in hand and is also human centric in terms of it's understanding and maintainability. NONE OF THIS PRECLUDES THE DESIGN OF A WEB DIALECTING AND ONTOLOGY LANGUAGE from being REBOL friendly. Let me illustrate. Consider HTML as an example, as opposed to writing full blown HTML in the REBOL community we have tools like make-doc-pro as well as Andrew Martins excellent etext and html dialects. These both make it possible to produce HTML documents using scripts which convert text files into HTML according to the text 'MACRO patterns which represent HTML functionalities. These are a direct one to one correspondance between the text-2-html dialect language and HTML proper. However from my point of view there is a better way to represent HTML in a REBOL friendly DIALECT which is based on .PAGE from the pliant language project. please follow this link Instead of text macros like *this text will appear as bold* ; etext example in Pliant's .PAGE this would be BOLD TEXT "this text will apear as bold" ; .page example This for me is closer to what a true WEB Dialecting and Ontology Language would look like. BOLD TEXT "This text will appear as bold" It is NOT Rebol BUT it could BE, it is very sympathetic to REBOL design. BOLD TEXT look like functions which take arguments. This text will appear as bold is a REBOL string! type. However it is NOT REBOL per se and could be interpreted and transformed to HTML via your language of choice, be this lisp / scheme / perl / php / pliant / python / java / tcl / REBOL or whatever. Well designed DIALECT's are programming language neutral. The DIALECT keywords are specific to the domain of knowledge. A well designed DIALECTing language is human friendly to understand and maintain. XML / HTML are TOO verbose. C / etext / make-doc-pro are NOT verbose enough, they depend on character and symbol shortcuts to define meaning, which is great if your hacking at the keyboard but not so great if you are looking at the file and trying to interpret it's meaning and structure. For this you require to know these little languages like etext or make-doc-pro. Which is most human centric 1. BOLD TEXT "This text will appear as bold" ;.page dialect 2. *this text will appear as bold* ; etext dialect 3. <bold> <text> This text will appear as bold </text> </bold> ; html This is only a trivial example but which shows us the following; Etext is the most compact representation but require knowledge of etext to deduce what "*" means. HTML has fully balanced tags but soon becomes very verbose very quickly & causes file sizes to be in the region of 30 to 40 percent larger than they need to be, just by the closing tags alone! When you consider a fully internet centric worold with web pages and xml based web services that is a MASSIVE amount of bandwidth wasted every minute of every day. .PAGE for me has the correct balance of dialect keywords (human symbolic words or values) as well as simple data values like strings and numbers. If I were designing a language nuetral but REBOL friendly DIALECTING and ONTOLOGY language for the WEB here is the attributes it would have; BOLD TEXT MY_WORD a-dialect-term ; key-words or REBOL words! 12345 3.141592 2e4 ; integer and decimal numbers in standard formats text strings ; text and data string! values [ color rgb 0 255 0 ] ; lists of values or REBOL blocks! SET WORD VALUE or WORD: VALUE ; assignment / extensibility see below =========== interlude =========== ========================== more .page examples ( note modified to include assignment ) set green [ color rgb 0 255 0 ] ; assign green to a value green text "this text will appear in green" =========== end of interlude ========= ======================= CONTEXTS or NAMESPACES the equivalent of REBOL objects! my-offer: context [ price: "=A3100" amount: 2 ] in xml this would be the same as <my-offer> <price> "=A3100" </price> <amount> 2 </amount> </my-offer> This would be my basis for the design of a WEB dialecting and ontology language. NOT REBOL but a rebol friendly language neutral human friendly format capable of being parsed and interpreted by your programming language of choice and / or human beings reading file data & information. None of this is new anyway John MCarthy of LISP fame was discussing a COMMON BUSINESS COMMUNICATION LANGUAGE back in 1976 before there was any internet and suggested using SYMBOLIC EXPRESSIONS simlar to LISPish syntax so the idea of a universal messaging language is NOT new and NOT entirely exclusive to REBOL. I think these brief suggestions outline how I think human / computer communication can be designed and extended indefinetley without relying on any specific computer language or platform or environment. As a final point REBOL can only have a limited amount og global words, at the present time / this will probably & hopefully change soon, but that alone rules out REBOL as "THE" EXTENSIBLE MESSAGING LANGUAGE solution, which every other language hacker would scoff at anyway for a number of reasons, with the fact it's a proprietary language quite an important point on any list of objections. The question is CAN XML be dislodged before it's too late? In any other industry a 30 to 40 per cent improvement in efficiency would undoubtedly be hailed as breakthrough performance! My two pence worth. cheers, Mark Dickson