[sword-devel] The death of OSIS?

Kahunapule Michael P. Johnson Kahunapule at mpj.cx
Wed Aug 11 00:01:53 MST 2004

At 16:18 11-08-04, Chris Little wrote:
>Kahunapule Michael P. Johnson wrote:
>> 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.
>We've covered this a great deal, including downsides to your 
>suggestions.  The best solution will probably lie in identifying, 
>presumably in the header or on each <q> element, the rendered form. 
>Encoding quotation marks directly is just not a good solution.  If 
>you're willing to entertain the possibility that others who have 
>opinions differing from your own just might have good ideas too, you can 
>re-read the previous threads in sword-devel or the discussions in 
>osis-core (I think it is publicly archived).

I have never gotten a satisfactory response to my objections. Granted, I haven't seen everything in sword-devel, and I didn't read any discussion about that in osis-core. I tried to find the archive, but could not find it on my first attempt. A direct pointer (URL) would be appreciated.

I am quite willing to entertain the possibility that others with differing opinions might have good ideas, too. I am not willing to use a Bible interchange format that systematically allows for corruption of the punctuation or that always enforces English rules of punctuation.

I can easily live with identifying the rendered form of each quotation punctuation mark in each <q> element, provided that I can put a <q> element everywhere that a quotation punctuation mark should be, including opening punctuation mark reminders at paragraph and stanza beginnings. It doesn't have to be elegant. It doesn't have to be implemented the way I want it. It just has to work and it has to be included in a way that works in the standard.

>OSIS was designed with at least one principle in common with Perl: 
>"Common things should be easy; advanced things should at least be possible."

I like that philosophy. I may differ in my opinion of how well this was implemented. I would have considered rendering the words and punctuation, including quotation marks (whichever quotation marks are used in the target language and style of the translation in question), of Bible text to be a common thing that should be easy. I also think that verse marking -- probably the most common thing done in Bible texts -- would be easier, but that is a minor nit.

>> 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.
>No one expects every document to conform to the highest levels of 

Yes, but even the lowest level of conformance excludes the best OSIS I could generate for the World English Bible, primarily because of the quotation marking issue. The fact that you consider that level of OSIS to be unacceptable for direct reading by the Sword Project is, to me, an indicator that OSIS itself is inadequate in its current form.

>I think there is more support than you know of.  Again, just because no 
>one bothered to tell you about it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  I 
>believe an OSIS document was used earlier this year as the basis for a 
>new Bible's first printing.  There are applications for editing, 
>converting, rendering, and reading OSIS documents.  And there are around 
>a dozen fully marked OSIS Bibles that I know of (and that excludes all 
>of CCEL's documents that are converted by stylesheet and CrossWire's 
>documents converted by exporters).
>The rumors of OSIS' death are greatly exaggerated.

Maybe... but the jury is still out.

I guess what I'm really saying is that the patient needs some care. It may die, or it may just be crippled. Now is a critical time in OSIS' life. Maybe nobody cares if I use or support OSIS. Maybe nobody cares about little details like preserving quotation marks.

Sometimes you have to make some noise to see if the patient is dead or deaf...

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