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Re: Accent escape sequences

Thinking about the mechanics of implementing these suggestions, it would
make sense to define different types of text field using the
_item_type_list.code DDL2 attribute.  Currently mmCIF appears to have
only 'text' for multiline data, and imgCIF has 'binary' in addition to
this.  A new type (e.g. 'mime') could specify a regex that matches a
mime header, something like what is done for the imgCIF 'binary' type.  

A variation on this would be to define a larger number of
_item_type_list.codes corresponding to the various text formats of
interest, for example 'ascii_markup','tex','html','mathml'.  This would
mean that the format of a given data item would be determined at
dictionary writing time if a single type code is given in the
dictionary.  While this might work and be quite useful when writing
dictionaries, it is probably too onerous when producing data files. So
the data dictionary would specify a list of possible text type codes,
and a magic number or mime header would be useful in the data item text
field in order to disambiguate.

Regarding the suggestion that there be several representations of the
same text using a mime multipart approach, I think caution is warranted
insofar as this might relate to dictionary data items (as opposed to
data file data items), in that all of the parts should be kept
synchronised, entailing more work, and work which involves specialised

On Mon, 2007-03-05 at 16:00 +0000, Brian McMahon wrote:
> > The advantage of a simple escape mechanism, like the current scheme, is
> > that it is fairly easy to read directly. The disadvantage is that it has
> > limited abilities. With MIME, the multipart/alternative could be used,
> > where simple ASCII escapes are combined with a more accurate version
> > that is not directly readable. This give the advantages of both forms.
> In principle, this is a great idea. Consider the CIF dictionaries,
> where the pure-text _definition field sometimes carries inventive
> representations of maths (e.g.
> http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/cif/cifdic_html/1/cif_core.dic/Irefine_ls_restrained_S_gt.html )
> that have to be reverse-engineered into something more useful (e.g. TeX)
> when typesetting these for International Tables. It would make it
> easier to keep these representations in sync if they were both
> transported as multipart/alternative content in the same text field.
> But ... this does come at the expense of significantly more
> complexity in applications that need to do something with the
> content of text fields. Most scientific CIF applications (the
> ones that work on the data) won't be affected - they just skip
> over text fields. The others will need to have the ability to
> parse and extract MIME content (not too difficult), but also
> to *write* proper multipart content, and that's not necessarily
> so easy if you're to provide tools that ingest content from
> different input streams (TeX-savvy editors, html editors,
> clipboards...). In practice the Acta office doesn't see a
> critical mass of content provision to justify this complexity
> at this stage (it's still really only Acta C and E that use
> CIF text fields extensively, and they're catered for through
> publCIF). Having said which, there's no harm in working through
> the details of how such a system could operate.
> Going back to Joe's original wishes to rationalise and perhaps
> extend the existing CIF markup, it's important also to remember
> that some data items will also occasionally require markup for
> simple string fields - e.g. how to markup the "alpha" Wyckoff
> position in the symmetry CIF dictionary? The use of
> the '\a' digraph in
> http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/cif/cifdic_html/2/cif_sym.dic/Ispace_group_Wyckoff.letter.html
> clearly derives from the "usual" CIF markup for alpha, but that is
> nowhere made formally clear. It looks like we need unambiguous
> markup rules in these cases too.
> (I'm hoping to see our publCIF developer later this week so that
> we can discuss the specifics of the proposal Joe posted recently.)
> Brian
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James Hester, ANBF                             KEK
e-mail: jrh@anbf2.kek.jp                       Oho 1-1
Phone: +81 298 64 7959                         Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305
  Fax: +81 298 64 7967                         Japan
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