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   RE: power uses of XML vs. simple uses of XML

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  • From: "Paulo Gaspar" <paulo.gaspar@krankikom.de>
  • To: <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2000 02:31:27 +0200

You are pointing out something interesting.

I still have one foot on one side and a foot on the other and I think I
recognise the situation you are talking about even in my recent past.

I am only going to point out a few issues that (IMHO) contribute a lot
to this situation:
 1. Lack of introductory articles with visibility to programmers,
    mostly in the WWW, that show the articulate use of those best
 2. Lack of solid "easy-to-use-and-learn" tools;
 3. DTD's.

Detailing a bit (in reverse order):
 3. DTD's are awkward to me and to most programmers I know that also
    know about them. On the other hand, any programmer with some
    experience with databases finds XML Schema very intuitive;
 2. Most of the visual tools available to deal with XML related tasks
    are still fare from maturity. The text editors I know also do not
    help much beyond a bit of "syntax highlighting", with NoteTab being
    the best alternative I tried;
 1. As usual, when you want to start using a technology that has many
    different parts and aspects, the first problem with XML is to
    understand how those different parts and aspects can/should work
    together to perform the tasks you need.
    I do not know about a good public guide available and visible to
    the majority of the software developer community.
    Most articles that show up in the most popular sites are:
     - Pure marketing blah blah;
     - XML hype related (Hey... our site/e-magazine has articles on
     - Self promotion (Hey mom, I know how to do stuff with XML!);
     - About practical work cases by experimented software
       developers... that are newbies to XML.
    I have been considering writing a couple of these myself but,
    thanks to schedule pressure, I have been able to resist!  =;o)

I think that "1." has been the worse for me. I had to read a lot of
garbage until I started seeing the big picture, and this big picture
is still out of focus.

Good and consistent introductory material is missing.

Not a book or something that costs money, since not everyone is able
to spend money just to understand if a technology is worthy and many
only do it when they have something working.

What I miss is a small e-book, some kind of introductory course
pointed by visible pointers in the obvious XML sites (www.xml.org,
www.xml.com, www.w3c.org, ...).

Should be well written and directed to practical - learn a bit
by example - minds, as most developers have.
(Formal stuff and DTDs are not the cup of tea of most software
developers I know.)

I have found just the right style in HTML introductory courses present
in some universitary sites. I just do not know anything like that for

Well, at least I hope that this kicks some reactions.

Have fun,

Paulo Gaspar

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-xml-dev@xml.org [mailto:owner-xml-dev@xml.org]On Behalf Of
> Simon St.Laurent
> Sent: Saturday, July 08, 2000 14:25
> To: XML-Dev Mailing list
> Subject: power uses of XML vs. simple uses of XML
> While this list tends to be oriented toward power users of XML and
> 'language-lawyer' knowledge levels, I'm finding in my travels (mostly
> conferences) that there are a lot of people out there who see XML as a
> convenient way for them to define their own formats, and that's about it.
> When I go to XTech or the Montreal Developer Conferences, the
> audiences are
> aware of and use DTDs and Namespaces on a regular basis.  They may even
> have heard of or use RDF, and many of them can create XSLT
> stylesheets from
> scratch!
> When I go to conferences for software developers or XML forums that aren't
> aimed at the core of people I know mostly from this list, most people (in
> my XML-oriented sessions, anyway) still know how to create XML documents,
> and they likely use XML in their projects.  They don't tend to use DTDs,
> however, and I get a lot of questions about when and if to use namespaces.
> Developers using XML to connect multiple organizations generally are more
> inclined to use both of those tools, but there's a lot of ad hoc XML even
> in those cases.
> Sometimes I feel like I'm switching worlds when I move between this list
> and its surrounding community, and the larger world of software
> development
> - the values are very different.  In some ways, it's easier to explain the
> value of DTDs and namespaces to developers who've never used XML before
> than to developers who are using XML in their own way on their
> own project.
> There's always been a disconnect between the 'XML core', with its
> inheritance of SGML best practices, its close attention to new work at the
> W3C, and the larger body of developers learning XML and applying it in
> their own work without any special fondness for XML per se.  I wonder,
> though, if that disconnect will grow as we pile more and more ideas on top
> of what was already a fairly complicated specification.
> I've spent the last few years writing for and teaching folks
> outside of the
> core community, and I'm starting to wonder if maybe it's time for the core
> to slow down, take a look around, and figure out why more people aren't
> using all the tools - even the stable ones - we're providing.
> I occasionally hear claims that "they just don't understand", but I think
> there's something a lot deeper than that going on.  What exactly, I'm not
> sure, but I suspect that practice will differ from best practice will
> differ from specification in a lot of unexpected ways over the next few
> years, and likely because of this disconnect.
> [end Saturday AM yammering]
> Simon St.Laurent
> XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
> http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books
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