How to cite this paper

Beck, Jeffrey. “Transcending structure: Applying shared markup vocabularies with your friends and enemies.” Presented at Symposium on Markup Vocabulary Ecosystems, Washington, DC, July 30, 2018. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Markup Vocabulary Ecosystems. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 22 (2018).

Symposium on Markup Vocabulary Ecosystems
July 30, 2018

Balisage Paper: Transcending structure: Applying shared markup vocabularies with your friends and enemies

Jeffrey Beck

US National Library of Medicine

Jeff Beck is a Technical information Specialist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the US National Library of Medicine. He has been involved in the PubMed Central project since it began in 2000 and has been working in print and then electronic journal publishing since the early 1990s. He was the leader of the NLM DTD Working Group and is the leader of the BITS Working Group at NCBI. Currently he is co-chair of the NISO Z39.96 JATS Standing Committee, a member of the JATS4Reuse Steering Committee, and is a BELS-certified Editor in the Life Sciences.

Author’s contribution to the Work was done as part of the Author’s official duties as an NIH employee and is a Work of the United States Government. Therefore, copyright may not be established in the United States. 17 U.S.C. § 105. If Publisher intends to disseminate the Work outside the U.S., Publisher may secure copyright to the extent authorized under the domestic laws of the relevant country, subject to a paid-up, nonexclusive, irrevocable worldwide license to the United States in such copyrighted work to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public and perform publicly and display publicly the work, and to permit others to do so.


Markup makes it easier to share. We share documents with our peers, our partners, and even our competitors. Communities of interest form, they define document structures, test them in practice, and affirm them by adoption. Joining a community has obvious advantages: reduced development costs, ease of interchange, tried and tested tools, and an available pool of authors, editors, and developers already familiar with the vocabulary.

Over time, the pace of vocabulary evolution slows naturally. The major structures are developed, applied, tested, and accepted. New structures are added more slowly, and more reluctantly. The community has transitioned into maintenance mode where large scale refactorings and backwards-incompatible changes are known to have burdonsome costs and “best practices” are known to make sharing easier.

What can the “Markup Community in General” do to support these stricter best practices communities?