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   XT, OpenSource and altruistic effort

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Thu, 08 Jun 2000 20:33:55 +0100

Leigh Dodds has reported in:


that James Clark is unlikely to continue much work on XT; Leigh also
abstracts the comments of the community, many of which contain expressions
of regret. There is the possibility that others may continue the work.

I hope some general comments may be useful for XML-DEV members, especially
recent ones.

Firstly we all owe an enormous debt to James Clark. It is usually invidious
to single out individuals, but James has been a keystone in the XML
edifice. A particular value has been that he has developed tools in
parallel with the specs so that it has been possible to evaluate the value
of new proposals. His parsers form the basis of many XML tools at present.

Some people commented that it was a pity that high-quality code like XT
should lapse. Having written tools myself, I sympathise, but there is also
the realisation that - at a certain point - energies are often spent better
elsewhere. It is particularly valuable that we are seeing virtual
communities who are looking to pick up on the efforts of individuals or
companies - xml.apache.org is an excellent and valuable example.

Most of the early adopter code is likely to be "thrown away" in the end -
not least because the specifications and the targets have been moving. It
is important - I think - that we have at least two OpenSource
implementations of current specifications - especially those in draft. In
the early days we had several parser writers - not all the fruits have
survived - but they were critical in helping the V1.0 spec become what it
is now. By contrast the namespace spec was finalised before there were
implementations - and it took a long time after the REC for many tools to
become namespace aware. 

	It is critical, therefore, that the emerging specs have enthusiasts trying
to create tools that support the drafts and that these have the possibility
of being developed further if required. I'd highlight the following:
	- XML Schema. many thanks to Xerces and others for attacking this
	- XSL-FO. Personally I think this is critically important. It's a tough
problem and the people working on FOP require all the support they can -
it's lonely, tough and often desperate trying to implement emerging specs -
and enthusiasm is the key quality.
	- XLink. Until we have some generic tools I don't think we shall know how
XLink is going to be used. Are there OpenSource efforts here? Not easy,
because I suspect XLink will have context dependencies in many cases and be
an integral part of applications.

	What we are starting to see is the pattern of an individual building an
early implementation and then a group, often with CVS, taking on the
development phase. I'd urge XML-DEVers with time and enthusiasm to consider
how they might help in communal efforts.


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