The Cover Pages is a comprehensive, online reference collection supporting the XML family of markup language standards, XML vocabularies, and related structured information standards. Edited by Robin Cover since 1986, this public access knowledgebase promotes and enables the use of open, interoperable, standards-based solutions which protect digital information and enhance the quality of data processing.
The Cover Pages web site provides reference material on enabling technologies compatible with SGML/XML descriptive markup language standards and applications: object modeling, semantic nets, ontologies, authority lists, document production systems, and conceptual modeling. It also supplies references for social aspects of distributed and public sector concerns: privacy, open standards, patented technology embedded in standards, etc. NB. This statement and the resource itself are works in progress, subject to continuous revision.
The Cover Pages is characterized by the following set of values, goals, and non-goals.
The chief objectives are to (1) provide a searchable reference collection that is comprehensive, cumulative, representative, and introspective, (2) supporting the information needs of readers at their point of need.
Comprehensive: The collection provides information on broadest possible range of implementations in all jurisdictions (academic, government, industry) and application areas, whether in technology, science, humanities, religion, or other area. The standards themselves are awarded primacy, covering SGML, XML, W3C XML Schema, Other XML Schema Languages, XSL, XSLT, XPath, XLink, XML Query, XHTML, DOM, XPointer, HyTime, RDF, Topic Maps, DSSSL, CSS, SPDL, SVG, CGM, ISO-HTML, etc.
Cumulative: The core axiological principle undergirding SGML/XML (asset protection through information longevity) is applied to the collection development policy of The Cover Pages itself. Information collected about the progress and regress of markup language standards is not thrown away when it comes to be popularly perceived as irrelevant to the next wave of technology innovation. Representative materials are retained indefinitely.
Representative: The Cover Pages is not exhaustive in its collection development scope, but it endeavors to be representative. It will document the endeavors of all participants willing to provide a public record of activity, whether industry consortia, large companies, small companies, individuals, company research units, government agencies, informal development communities -- in representative fashion so as to illustrate the breadth of application areas.
Introspective: The Cover Pages by editorial policy is thoughtfully and respectfully self-critical, viz., of the "markup language technologies" enterprise, committed in principal to the belief that acknowledgement of limitations and inadequacies is as important to forward progress as is the marketing of success stories.
By editorial policy and principled reason, The Cover Pages identifies the following non-goals.
Cutting-edge technology display: In support of providing access to all users, including those technologically disadvantaged by local economies or corporate policies, The Cover Pages does not endeavor to showcase the latest (proof-of-concept) Web technologies, even when these are based upon core standards. Such showcases are important, but providing democratized access is judged more important for this publication. For example in 2001-04, compatibility and accessibility concerns argue against the extensive use of CSS2 and XSLT because client support is very uneven. For similar reasons, the Web documents do not use scripting languages that are variably supported in client software.
Commercialism: Editorial policy calls for the web site to be independent of any special vendor interests, avoiding banner advertising and the promotion of particular products. Web site sponsors are expected to understand and honor this foundational principle, which allows all commercial and non-commercial interests 'equal opportunity' visibility in the knowledgebase.
First-to-press news service: The web site endeavors to provide timely information updates concerning standards-related resources in news, articles, and industry press sections. However, it does not attempt to provide the "fastest news possible," predicated on the dual conviction that: (1) information "new" in the first few minutes or hours is often misinformation or poorly contextualized/documented information; (2) the human propensity to tacit belief that the "new" is both urgent and immediately important is falsely chimerical [see Qoheleth, Israel, 600 BCE].
Sensationalism and controversy: Editorial policy calls for the avoidance of (1) sensational journalistic tactics, (2) deliberate creation and exploitation of controversy as a marketing gimmick, (3) claims to exclusive stories and insider-expert analyst opinion.
Entertainment: The central goal of The Cover Pages is to provide reliable, high-value, permanently-useful information content. Readers seeking to be entertained journalistically are encouraged to visit web sites which traffic in this lane.
Many people find the information they need on The Cover Pages Web site, but I readily admit that the site is "challenged" in terms of usability at some junctures. I am working to redesign the functionality and to restructure the content, but <excuses>as I am only one person, this work proceeds slowly, and resources for this activity in my "expense/revenue center" have been negligible.</excuses> Volunteer assistance is welcome! Meantime, here are a few tips on using the resources. - Robin Cover
Topical Site Index
The site index is an expanded Table of Contents for the entire web site. If you load this document into your browser, a simple string search from your browser interface will often be optimal for finding a resource. Use menu options Edit -> Find.
Where to Look for "New" Information
The online reference collection has 500+ "topical" documents that are updated episodically; each topical document displays its data of last correction/revision/update. Other documents are dedicated to the presentation of new information about XML applications ("news") as new publications come to attention. See the overview of news channels for description of these news stories, news clippings, announcements, article excerpts, etc.
RSS News Feed: http://xml.coverpages.org/covernews.xml. You may want to subscribe to the RSS channel (XML, currently RSS 0.91) which delivers headlines and abstracts for news stories. An HTML-ized version of the (XML) RSS document is also available.
For quick news access via a condensed listing of headlines, bookmark 'News Headlines'. Alternatively, if you are using a portal interface for Web browsing and want to see just the fifteen or so most recent headlines from the News page.
Description of the web site (materials), written mostly in the early days:
- Web Site Historical Sketch.. Chronicle for the reference collection from 1986 onward. The first publications of the material were based upon email distribution and file servers in the days of 9600 baud "BITNET" (zero-redundant-path academic networks) to which people connected using 1200 baud modems.
- Web Site Description.. An early website description.
- Caveats and Disclaimers. Some published disclaimers and caveats having to do with data integrity, accuracy, currency, attribution, cache, and 'copyright'. There is also a document section about the (typical non-)use of trademark symbols for company names, products, and services that are presumed to be trademarked names.
- Search Facility: Warnings and Caveats. Applies to the current search facilities as well, for the most part.