[sword-devel] Why is OSIS preferred? Was Re: usfm2osis.pl

Jonathan Morgan jonmmorgan at gmail.com
Tue Jul 1 04:13:14 MST 2008

On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 12:48 AM, DM Smith <dmsmith555 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Adrian Korten wrote:
>> Good day,
>> I'm a newbie with OSIS. Could someone say why you would prefer one over
>> the other? Or how this relates to how Crosswire handles the files?
>> ak
> Adrian,

I'll try to limit my skepticism.

> Just a partial answer. This is my opinion.
> Why is OSIS preferred?
> * The other formats that the SWORD engine supports have deficiencies.
> These are plain-text, GBF, and ThML. To me the biggest problems are:
>    ** Plain-text is, well, plain. Most of the e-texts that we make into
> modules have a more robust markup.
>    ** GBF is not xml. It does not separate presentation from content.
> Cross-references are ad-hoc.
>    ** ThML is xml, but is layered upon HTML. It does not separate
> presentation from content. Cross-references are ad-hoc.

ThML is also still (I think) used by the greatest percentage of our
modules (though that may be changed in the future).

Separating presentation from content is a nice idea, but I'm not
convinced that it is good in all cases.  What happens with OSIS when a
Bible publisher wants to insist that certain constructs in their Bible
are formatted in certain ways?

> * CrossWire members helped define OSIS as the format of choice for
> Bibles and Commentaries.
> * OSIS is a growing, maturing standard, addressing the short-comings of
> other popular formats.

And adding some of its own (its complexity comes to mind here, though
possibly that is intrinsic given what it is trying to cover).

In my view adding milestoning and so forth left the path of strictly
hierarchical XML.  It's still valid XML, but it's not really what XML
was intended to do.  I don't know enough to comment on whether this
was really necessary or if there is a better way to do it, but it does
mean that valid OSIS XML may not be valid OSIS (this is true of most
XML formats, in fact - OSIS just carries it further than most).

> * OSIS is being adopted by publishers and Bible societies.
> * SWORD developers are all time-limited volunteers. Most are focused on
> front-end development. While we will continue to support the other
> formats, new module development is focused on OSIS.

Will GBF continue to be supported?  I seem to remember that Chris
reported lack of GBF support as a missing feature in BPBible, despite
the fact that I'm sure that I have heard statements suggesting GBF is
very strongly deprecated.  How many modules are still GBF?


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