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   Re: PC Week on "Why XML is Failing" ?????

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  • From: Paul Tchistopolskii <paul@qub.com>
  • To: "'xml-dev'" <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 21:13:12 -0700

> > > I don't thing ANYONE hyped XML to the point that the article implies.
> >
> > Listen to (or read) Steve Ballmer's remarks over the past year.
> > http://www.xml.org/xmlorg_news/ceo-xml.shtml
> >
> You got me there!  Ballmer's hype is pretty monumental, paraphrased later in
> this article as "Ballmer's optimism that XML will flawlessly usher in a new
> means of doing business." 

Probably I don't understand the difference between MS hype 
and Sun/Oracle/Netscape/W3C hype, but I found *absolutely*  nothing 
extraordinary in Ballmer's statements ( I used the URL above, 
maybe you are discussing some other article ? )

There are very few quotes of Ballmer's words and I would like to 
comment on those quotes.

Calling it an "incredibly important invention," Ballmer says XML 
"will make it much more possible to link Web sites and to link 
consumers to Web sites in rich, interesting ways." 

Where is the hype? X-link, XSLT and some other W3C 
stuff  ( with some support  by  web browsers ) realy 
make it much more possible to link Web sites and link 
consumers to Web sites in rich, interesting ways.  

Where is the hype here ? Probably the hype is 
that Ballmer is using the word 'XML' when he should 
actualy use the wording "XML and some associated 
XML standards/recommendations" ? I don't think 
he should be blamed for such a subtile thing.

XML will become the "universal medium by which Web 
sites and users of Web sites communicate," Ballmer says. 

Where is the hype here? Should Ballmer start explaining 
that :

As we all know ( at least those of us who have spend 
some time reading "Mythical man-month" by Brooks ) 
the core thing in software development appears to be 
not the code but data structures ( AKA dataflows ).

XML makes some step and provides some simplification 
here ( in the core area of software development).

XML provides ( sometimes trivial ) improvements with 
serialization of relatively complex data structures in 
a *bit*  more open and portable fashion comparing 
XML to any known 'competitive' solutions including:

binary and / or 
proprietary and / or 
oversimplified ( comma-separted ASCII files )  and / or 
not scalable ( HTML ) and / or
bloated ( SGML )  

The data and dataflows is the backbone of 
software development. *any* simplification
( even *very* subtile and *trivial* ) in this area is 
incredibly influencing.

I bet that  *any*  developer after he discovers how 
easy it is to write some home-grown configuration 
file in XML and to process it  with DOM,  he will 
then *never*  think about writing  yet-another-comma-or-:-or
some-other-thing separated.ini/config file.

Is this trivial simplification? Yes it is. ( like many other 
simplifications provided by XML )


There is nothing *better* yet. This is Ballmer's 

Are there any alternatives to XML to build the 
'logical layer on top of IP' ?

I have to agree with Ballmer that there is no alternatives
for *this* problem domain.

( I know what is Corba and I don't think  
it is alternative , because it is much harder to use.
I'm not saying that Corba is better than XML or opposite.
I'm saying that XML simplifies *much* wider spector of 
tasks than Corba does - even Corba  / RMI simplifies some 
things much better ).

That means  Ballmer's point :

"universal medium by which Web 
sites and users of Web sites communicate," 

is  *perfectly* reasonable. I see no hype here. If somebody 
thinks that Ballmer is wrong and the medium would be built 
on top of  binary ( Corba) / and/or  simplified ( HTML, csv e t.c) 
and/or some other way - that somebody will just make 
another 'prediction' ( like:  Corba will take over and will become 
that 'universal medium'. ).

But I see absolutely no hype. Ballmer says that Web will be 
built on XML instead of HTML. 

Is is legal to call HTML 'universal medium' of current Web ? 
I think  it is. That means it is also legal to call XML 
'universal medium' of the tomorrow's Web.

Encoding data in XML will let various platforms "talk" to each other. 
This is key to taking e-commerce and e-government to the next level, 
Ballmer predicts. 

No hype here. 

 When *any*  system allows an option to serialize 
some data into 'open' text format such a system is 
*always* *much* more scalable than the same system 
with  no such ability. Just imagine if Adobe Frame Maker
with have no MIF format. 

The biggest obstacle for interoperability are vendors.
I don't know why vendors are closing their formats. 

1.  XML 'forces' proprietary system to behave 
in 'more open' fasion. ( Politicaly ).

2. 1.  XML 'forces' proprietary system to behave 
in 'more open' fasion. ( Technicaly ).

Nobody prevents vendors to ship 'unreadable' XML file, 
but having it in XML at least simplifies the process of hacking 
the format, when you have to write some extension
for yet another proprietary system. 

Is it trivial simplification when you need to reverese-engeneer 
'closed' text file but not 'closed' binary file? Yes it is trivial. 
But is *is* a simplification in the core part of dataflow / data. 
( See above ).

> Thanks for setting me straight ... it's scary to look back on such hype; it
> reminds me of 1997 or so when Java was hyped as the Windows-killing
> universal client... and of 1998 when it was considered a failure for not
> sending Bill G. to the poorhouse.  We should probably get ready for a spate
> of "XML didn't solve the world's problems, so it's dead" articles. Sigh.

Hyping Java to kill Windows on the client side was just plain 
*technicaly* *stupid*. 

( Let me not explain what particular technical mistakes have 
been made by designers of Java language, I think those who 
are aware of Java internals already know what I mean. People 
who wrote Juice have some nice explanations on their website, 
and early books written by some of Java inventors also 
have some reasonable and honest statements. 
Don't know what happens in second editions of the 
same book.).

I don't see any hype of  this kind in Ballmer's quotes. I see 
no statements which are stupid from technical standpoit. 
More. I agree with Ballmer from technical standpoint.

I see a lot of hype from people who are making money 
publishing some stupid articles and playing some 
political games instead of being honest and responsible
( I mean  some journalists ).  But that's typical thing. It has 
nothing to do with the technology. Politics and media walk 
hand by hand in any country. 

I don't think Ballmer should be in any way blamed for the 
quotes I found in this article.  Probably there is some 
other URL somewhere?


PS. Can't belive I'm defending MS CEO ;-)

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