Formal syntax descriptions for data formats?

Christian Wetzel <>
10 Oct 1997 22:00:32 -0400

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Formal syntax descriptions for data formats? (Christian Wetzel) (1997-10-10)
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From: Christian Wetzel <>
Newsgroups: comp.text,comp.compilers,,comp.lang.perl.misc
Followup-To: comp.compilers
Date: 10 Oct 1997 22:00:32 -0400
Organization: CLUE -- Computerlinguistik Uni Erlangen
Keywords: syntax, question, comment


I'm searching for links to places with formal syntax
descriptions of data formats, preferably text-oriented
(non-binary) formats for
- electronic documents (LaTeX, troff, ...)
- linguistic applications (online dictionaries, tagged corpora, ...)
- log files (web server logs, system logs, ...)
- bibliographies
- ...,
but no programming languages. Can you help me?
Any connection of this topic to SGML-related stuff would
also be interesting to me.

I'm planning to build a converter generator workbench in Perl/Yacc for
(text-oriented) data formats. The problem with most data format
manuals (like those from Guenter Born) is that their descriptions are
informal, and BNF-like descriptions like the RTF (Rich Text Format)
Specification are hard to find.

If you know of similar projects, please let me know.

Thank you in advance,
[It is my impression that a formal syntax rarely suffices to parse
real documents, unfortunately. -John]

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