[sword-devel] OSIS:What is the future? Who is using it now?

Kahunapule Michael Johnson kahunapule at mpj.cx
Mon Mar 6 20:39:29 MST 2006

DM Smith wrote:
> There is a simple advantage to supporting OSIS as the only format
> going forward: Standardization.
Standardization is sometimes a good thing. Sometimes it is a bad thing.

Suppose that I proposed a new standard for electrical power
distribution, world-wide. Instead of 120 VAC 60 Hz, 220 VAC 50 Hz, and
250 VAC 50 Hz, depending on where you go, with all kinds of different
plugs and sockets, that I proposed a new standard of 190 VAC, 100 Hz,
with a new socket design different from all the current ones, so as not
to cause problems with people plugging into the wrong voltage by
mistake.  Would that be a good thing? It would provide lower
electrocution hazard to the places where 220 VAC is the standard, lower
fire hazard to places where 120 VAC is the standard, and would allow for
less expensive transformers and less flicker in fluorescent lighting.
Those are all good things. Could I sell it? Not likely, due to
incompatibilities with existing power generation, power distribution,
and power consuming equipment. It would just cost too much, and the
benefits, though very real, would not be enough to counterbalance the cost.

Suppose that I declared that all lighting anywhere in a particular city
must be done with the same kind of 38 watt fluorescent tube, no
exceptions. Would that be good? It would certainly be standard.

A good standard is one that says something like, "if you want to connect
your telephone to the public switched telephone network, you must use
these signaling levels and specifications and this kind of connector."
It doesn't prohibit alternate communication paths or prevent innovation,
but it does allow competition and compatibility at the same time for
people making telephones.

A bad standard is one that takes a suboptimal solution to a problem and
makes it the only solution, or one that doesn't provide adequate
compatibility with previous or future solutions.

I don't believe that it has to be all or nothing. Data format converters
are cheaper than the hardware required to convert electrical
distribution standards. Isn't one of the claimed advantages of OSIS ease
of conversion to other formats? Without that, OSIS is pretty useless. Of
course, OSIS has underlying philosophy differences with competing
standards that make conversions more difficult-- kind of like changing
frequency and voltage of an electrical power system. Just changing
voltage is easy-- use a transformer or autotransformer. Changing
frequency too  requires a motor-generator or solid state rectification
and sine wave reconstruction. Changing philosophy of what and how to
represent Scripture texts requires some manual intervention or very
complex programming, instead of just simple transformations. That is one
reason OSIS is a tough sell. Another is its excessive complexity.
Another is its ambiguity, which is almost like trying to code to
multiple standards anyway.

So, shall we standardize on the Commodore-64 for all of our computing needs?

OSIS has been around for a few years. Why isn't it being used more?

I'm not really totally anti-OSIS. I have used it enough to believe that
I know what I'm talking about, and I have contributed feedback that I
believe has helped improve OSIS. I just don't think it is the best
solution for most of the Scripture-encoding uses involved in the work I
do. If you want to work in OSIS, that is fine. In the still-hypothetical
case that I encounter an OSIS text that I need to do something useful
with, I could convert it to a format more suitable for the task at hand.
It would take a little more work than dealing with some of the more
common formats, and there is a high risk that some important information
might be misinterpreted, but it would be something I could do. I would
rather work with a better format.

A few years ago, XSEM was THE promoted XML Scripture standard. Why
didn't we standardize on it and be done with it? There were many people
who thought it could be improved upon, erg OSIS.

Now OSIS 2.1.1 is it... BUT it isn't good enough. OSIS 2.5 and OSIS 3.0
are coming.

No, I don't think I buy the argument that standardization alone is a
very good selling point for OSIS. It has to be demonstrated to be good
for its intended purposes in use. It has to be accepted by more than a
few software developers and publishers to be worth putting up with its
imperfections. With wide enough use, millions of people put up with
flickering fluorescent lighting. Maybe we should remove the flickering
before setting a new standard?

> It gives us the opportunity to develop a rich and full architecture
> rather than supporting a multitude of formats. We can focus on text
> quality and quality delivery in a feature rich environment.
Yes, but couldn't we do all of that more effectively with a better, less
ambiguous, less complex, less lossy standard?
> Ultimately this means that we make the Word of God more accessible.
> Which is what I think we are all about.
No argument there... just about the best way to do that.
> Michael, thank you so much for your contributions to WEB and to the
> sapphire cipher.
You are welcome. :-)

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