[sword-devel] WEB update request; OSIS

Kahunapule Michael P. Johnson Kahunapule at mpj.cx
Tue Aug 10 16:45:54 MST 2004

Hello, Adrian, Chris, and all:

I probably sounded a bit harsh in my opinion of OSIS, right now. Please forgive me if I have offended anyone who has poured effort into trying to make OSIS work. I'm mostly frustrated because I really want OSIS (or at least a good open XML Bible format) to become widely adopted and used. However, there are some serious issues that will most likely kill OSIS before it gets started if they aren't corrected. Therefore, even though OSIS is only likely to be a real, commonly used standard in the future, it may suffer the fate of XSEM and never see that future.

1. OSIS does not properly preserve quotation punctuation in all cases, as currently documented. Furthermore, the keepers of the standard don't seem to think that quotation punctuation is important to preserve, but they seem to believe that such punctuation should always be generated from markup according to modern English rules of grammar, independent of the way the translators punctuated their work. Therefore, it is impossible to code a Bible translation in OSIS that differs in the way quotations are punctuated and expect that OSIS readers and renderers will render the quotation punctuation correctly. Just ignoring the <q> tag doesn't work if you want to mark text for possible use in a "red letter" edition.

2. The OSIS web site is not being kept current with the current OSIS schema and documentation. I dare you to start at the main web site and find the current OSIS 2.0 schema in less than 10 clicks. Indeed, you will probably come away satisfied that version 1.1 is the latest.

3. OSIS is much more complex than it has to be to generate and use, so it will probably never catch on without good applications to hide this complexity from the user. Greater complexity brings greater opportunity for errors and variations in interpretation. Just using an XML editor to deal with OSIS itself won't cut it-- not with ordinary working linguists. This can be fixed two ways without abandoning OSIS: (1) write more high-quality programs that use OSIS directly, or (2) use an intermediate, simpler format, then convert to and from OSIS.

4. OSIS has some other minor flaws that I think the keepers of the OSIS standard actually understand and intend to correct, so I'm not too concerned about them. (This includes things like the inability to mark supplied text in a Psalm Hebrew title, which is required to encode KJV, NKJV, etc. This has a work-around that may be good enough for some applications: just encode the Psalm Hebrew title as regular text instead of a title.)

5. OSIS expects a lot of metadata not found in many existing Scripture texts to be added to it to comply with higher levels of conformance. This may slow or prevent the conversion of some texts to OSIS.

6. None of the OSIS texts that I have seen are both high quality and fully conformant to the current OSIS schema. They tend to omit things like poetry line breaks and paragraph marks, or they are missing some markup, or they use some markup in ways not intended by the keepers of the OSIS standard. If OSIS were really good at doing what I expect it to do, I would have expected to see much better quality and quantity of Bibles in OSIS.

Much of the support for OSIS is only an illusion, and only extends to a small number of people. I like the idea of having a common, open XML Bible text interchange standard that is widely accepted and works properly. Of the problems above, #1 is very serious, in my opinion. The rest of it can be overcome. However, I'm not going to bet on OSIS succeeding unless some things change.

At 13:57 10-08-04, Adrian Korten wrote:
>Good day,
>My personal opinions only. OSIS sounds like a good thing but still seems 
>aimed at the future. The Windows software has some support for it but is 
>not complete and involves a performance decrease. At the moment, 
>progress on new development has stalled. Keeping up support for 'gbf' 
>formatting seems wise until the OSIS format is proven.
>Kahunapule Michael P. Johnson wrote:
>> At 17:43 09-08-04, chrislit at crosswire.org wrote:
>>>I'm working on it.  I started working on it last week, but it takes time 
>>>to add those <q> elements and fix other OSIS non-conformance issues.
>> The best way to fix those issues is to change the OSIS standard and change 
>your reader, in my opinion. Second best might be to write an automated 
>converter to change the OSIS files I produce to "conforming" OSIS. If you 
>can't do that, then you prove my point about the OSIS standard being defective.
>> Apparently, I was wasting my time to try to support OSIS.
>>>In the future, I'll probably maintain the same OSIS document and do 
>>>updates by producing diffs from the GBF version on which it is based.
>> That sounds like a lot of unnecessary work to me. Why not just read the 
>GBF directly?
>>>On Sun, 8 Aug 2004, Kahunapule Michael P. Johnson wrote:
>>>>I'm getting a couple of comments on the WEB translation about grammar 
>>>>problems & such that have already been corrected from people who got the 
>>>>World English Bible from the Crosswire Bible society. It would help me 
>>>>if you would update from the WEB web site (http://eBible.org/web/) from 
>>>>time to time while editing is still in progress. The biggest changes are 
>>>>in the Old Testament, but sometimes we find a better way to say 
>>>>something or correct a typo in the New Testament, as well. Take your 
>>>>pick of GBF or OSIS formats. :-)

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