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is that a fork in the road?

Wow.  Catching up on a week of XML-Dev is difficult stuff.

It feels to me like there's a lot percolating in this community right now, 
and it's not all friendly.

About a year and a half ago, there was some bloodletting over folks who 
thought XML 1.0 itself was too complicated, and SML-DEV moved to its own 
turf.  SML-DEV has produced some good stuff, but had to deal with being 
called 'splitters' on a regular basis.

Now we've got a different situation, where 'XML' is growing complex more 
rapidly than most people speaking here seem to want.  It's not exactly a 
matter of simplifying, but there are echoes of the previous battle.  This 
time around, though, it seems like a lot more people are concerned about 
the complexity issues, perhaps because they've grown by an order of 
magnitude in the interim.

I've never been certain that XML-Dev was representative of everyone using 
XML - I'm quite sure it's not - but it does include a wide variety of 
developer categories and people who have seen plenty of different projects 
and kinds of projects succeed and fail.  I've also heard similar complaints 
echoing through other communities exploring XML, from XHTML folk to random 
people in bookstores trying to decide if US$50 for a 1200-page book is 
going to get them all they think they need.

I don't really know what's going to happen, but I feel like we're at a 
crossroads, echoing the SML-DEV debate but with very different 
implications.  I'm hoping that we can all find ways to use 'XML' so that it 
solves our problems without getting in the way of everyone else's 
problem-solving, but that doesn't seem to be what's happening right now.

This chaos is probably good for the health of markup solutions in the long 
run - these are important issues that come up all the time.  At the same 
time, I'm worried that users may start looking at XML with a lot more 
suspicion as the books grow in size, the learning curve climbs higher, and 
there doesn't seem to be much agreement about what 'XML' should be.  To 
some extent, the same thing is happening with XSLT.

Maybe I've just read too much of XML-Dev at one gulp, and I certainly come 
to this with my own strong set of opinions, but it feels like something 
different is afoot.  Not necessarily the inevitable march of complex 
solutions to solve complex problems, either.

Simon St.Laurent - Associate Editor, O'Reilly and Associates
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
XHTML: Migrating Toward XML
http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books