[sword-devel] WEB update request

Chris Little chrislit at crosswire.org
Wed Aug 11 03:04:10 MST 2004

Kahunapule Michael P. Johnson wrote:

 > Chris, I am in no way saying that GBF is better than OSIS. GBF was
 > invented long ago for a specific purpose, which it did well, and was
 > even extended to do things that it wasn't designed to do originally.

I know, and I liked GBF a lot for a very long time, until better things 
came along and I learned enough to know better.  It's served Sword well 
too, and the number of Sword modules using GBF to some degree for markup 
testify to that fact.

> I look at things differently. I have an international and
> cross-organizational viewpoint few people have. I live and work with
> Bible translators in Papua New Guinea. I develop Bible translation
> software for SIL, Evangel Bible Translators, and Rainbow Missions,
> Inc. I do Bible translation work. I manage an archive of Bible
> translations, both in progress and completed. I know things about a
> variety of languages, and daily interact with people who speak many
> languages. If OSIS were better, I'd be programming assuming that it
> would be the Bible interchange standard of choice. OSIS is simply not
> ready for that status, yet, but it could be.

I don't think you're coming from a position much different from many of 
those who wrote the OSIS spec and who contributed at meetings.  A 
majority of them were linguists, everyone had some degree of 
multi-lingual experience, plenty had experience in each of translation, 
publishing, programming, and document archival and maintenance.  We had 
experts in ancient texts, publishers of the latest minority language 
texts, not to mention maintainers of the latest editions of ancient texts.

> Why not add at least one medium-sized flat-blade screwdriver to the
> set and wash off the skunk oil? How hard could that be? Indeed, how
> hard would it be to simply accept WEB & HNV OSIS files as they
> currently are generated, even if that is a slight break from the way
> the OSIS committee saw things?

Basically, the reason I want to change quotation marks to <q> elements 
in the Sword module is high standards.  We could just run the file 
through osis2mod and post the result, but I would rather post what I 
consider a higher quality text, even if it requires some work.  Besides, 
the quotation marks are not the only issue--every instance of an x- 
value in the WEB has a defined correct encoding in OSIS.

> In the mean time, perhaps you can defend OSIS' quote handling in a
> world with over 6,000 languages, and explain to me how OSIS can be
> used to properly encode red letter edition-capable electronic texts
> of the following translations: KJV, NASB, NIV in a way that fully
> conforms to OSIS 2.0, and in a way that all OSIS-conforming readers
> will always properly render them like the printed editions. Please
> offer me a serious answer to this request.

The "6,000 langauges" number is misleading.  Languages do not correspond 
1:1 with quotation styles.  The majority of minority languages, I would 
guess, make use of either no quotation marks or quotation mark styles 
borrowed from the language of whoever first reduced their language to 
writing.  The real number of different styles is difficult to estimate, 
but I would guess it is only a few hundred.

But a great portion of that count is made up of multiple styles used by 
  individual languages.  I believe it's important to maintain a record 
of the underlying typographic representation of quotation marks, through 
an attribute like the n attribute on <q>, but I don't believe this 
should necessarily be used as the basis for rendering.  The reason for 
this is that quotation styles can vary across different time periods, 
different subgroups of a linguistic community, and different rendering 
styles (e.g. paragraph breaking after verses vs. normal paragraphing). 
Marking <q> elements rather than typographic quotation marks allows this 
kind of flexibility.  I do believe we need some manner of identifying 
quotation mark styles within the document, either on each element or in 
the document header.

With OSIS 2.0.1, the assumption is that you will mark <q> elements and 
you will write stylesheets to render them correctly.  If you want to do 
paragraph breaking after verses and modern English quotation marks, 
that's one stylesheet.  If you want to do normal paragraphing and modern 
Spanish quotation marks, that's another stylesheet.  It puts a burden on 
the stylesheet writer that could be decreased with some of the things 
I've mentioned, and I would guess that the OSIS working groups will 
address them at some point.  But I doubt <q> will go away in favor of 
allowing ".

> OSIS may well be the best XML Scripture interchange format definition
> that is open and published, right now. What will it take to make it
> good enough to actually be used? "Passion of the Christ XSLTs"? Or
> maybe some responsiveness to concerns of those who might use and
> promote it?

Actually, only 12% of respondants believe it's the "Passion of the 
Christ XSLTs".  And I'm not even sure what "Indexer" means. :)


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