The call for reusability, interchange, system- and software-independence, portability, and collaboration in the humanities was answered by the advent of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) which became an ISO standard in 1986 (ISO 8879: 1986) (Goldfarb, 1990). SGML is not itself a markup scheme, but a methodology that enables the creation of such schemes. Based on IBM’s Document Composition Facility Generalized Markup Language, SGML was developed mainly by Charles Goldfarb to become a metalanguage for the description of markup schemes that satisfied at least seven requirements for an encoding standard:

  1. The requirement of comprehensiveness;
  2. The requirement of simplicity
  3. The requirement that documents be processable by software of moderate complexity;
  4. The requirement that the standard not be dependent on any particular set or text-entry devise;
  5. The requirement that the standard not be geared to any particular analytic program or printing system;
  6. The requirement that the standard should describe text in editable form; and
  7. The requirement that the standard allows the interchange of encoded texts across communication networks.

Such a markup scheme was exactly what the humanities were looking for in their quest for an encoding standard for the preparation and interchange of electronic texts for scholarly research.

Contributed by Caroline. View changelog.