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   Re: XML is boring (was Re: coming clean with the SGML crowd)

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  • From: Chris von See <cvonsee@onramp.net>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 09:07:48 -0500

At 08:40 AM 9/11/98 +0000, Peter Murray-Rust wrote:
>I agree with this. Given that XML was designed for use over the Web
>(right?) and it has been in gestation for 2 years I find it incredible that
>XML has not done anything useful in public view. Lots of hype in the
>magazines, etc. but nothing tangible to show for it. Tangible in the sense
>that I can show a non-XML person something that will interest them.


>The criterion for inclusion as a useful XML application is:
>	- it must be usable over the WWW AND/OR
>	- it must be downloadable and useful
>	- it must do something that cannot be easily done with HTML OR
>	- it must do something in an *immediately obviously* better way than HTML.
>	- it must catch the imagination of someone who is not an XML expert.

A newbie's perspective...

I am a commercial developer that became interested in XML about a month ago
as a result of the media hype that Peter refers to.  Rather than coming
into this with an SGML- or publishing-centric viewpoint (which seems to be
the view of the vast majority of the members of this list), I came into
this from a database/data communications perspective - one that saw XML as
a potential tool for a whole new suite of distributed, data-based
(knowledge-based?) applications.  In many instances, this was the way that
XML was portrayed by the media; the introduction of sexy products from
webMethods and DataChannel, the start of the XML/EDI initiative, and other
industry announcements just reinforced this viewpoint.  The key media point
(at least in the trade rags I read) was this: XML was relevant in A)
business-to-business and business-to-consumer electronic commerce
applications, and B) applications that required the linking of data from
disparate sources in a common format for consumption by automata.  There
was also some talk about ease in searching the Web and other
automata-enabled processes, but there was really very little mention of
XML as a replacement for HTML, XML in electronic publishing, XSL, etc. 

Personally (even after reading all the squabbl-uh-uh-discussion on this
list ;-), I still believe that data-based applications are where XML has
the greatest potential to achieve visibility and commercial success.  Even
though XML itself is not particularly sexy or exciting, combining the
concepts it embodies with the power of XLL, RDF, DOM and namespaces (and
even XSL) gives developers that are focused on the applications above the
opportunity to do some things that *are* sexy and exciting.  That's what
Mosaic had - sex-appeal and *immediate* applicability.

>As far as I can see, most readers of this list are:
>	- waiting for XSL because all they are interested in is rendering text
>with infinite precision. Worthy, but surely that's not the main point of
>XML. Also it's a year away.
>	- waiting for MS/NS to come up with 'XML browsers'. Doesn't look very
>promising, does it?
>	- only really interested in using XML to manage their current client
>	- interested in doing some in-house re-engineering.
>	- have some medium/long-term strategy for developing products. No doubt
>some of these will be very exciting but I doubt they will spread a flame
>across the WWW.
>	- just waiting

I don't really fit into any of Peter's catagories... I'm trying to decide
whether it makes financial/commercial sense to invest my (limited)
development funds in this newfangled XML stuff, or if XML is going to find
a niche somewhere but never get anchored in the general market conscience.

If visibility and commercial success if what you want, I believe that what
XML and its related technologies need is a commercial champion - someone
like IBM, Microsoft, or Netscape that can come forward and put a flag up
that developers can rally around.  No XML spreadsheet, drawing tool or
chess set is going to generate success for XML like an evangelical company.  


"Don't *say* things.  What you *are* stands over you the while, and
thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary."

--- Emerson, "Social Aims"

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