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> So, JJ, would a hypothetical "Crystal Reports for XML" that
> abstracted away the messier details of XPath, XQuery, and XSL
> (FO and/or XSLT) behind a decent UI help your friends
Sorry, nope. It would be like cutting somebody badly, and then ask if a kid-size band-aid would be of any help, (Hey look, it has got colorfull Mickey Mouses on it too...).
My friends are all quite clever people, talking Perl, ASP, SQL, Lingo, Java etc. etc. etc. So it is not the technicalities that keep them away from XML.
We all agree that XML is easy to start with (hey, you just need Notepad), but it is not as usefull as HTML.
I know that one buzz of XML is single source publishing. Has anyone really done this with success in a reasoble timeframe? If you need to do anything but the simplest layout (maybe a bit more, then, OK), XSLT is not strong and flexible enough.
If you need to do an advertisment style cross-platform web-site, XML+XSLT is definately not the way to go. Before the stylesheet was done, you could have made 50 web-sites using e.g. Dreamweawer with both HTML, Flash and WAP support.
On the other hand, if we look at the interchange aspect.
I agree that XML is good for marking up data+documents. Yes. And with a parser+DTD at hand, you can easily validate the documents. (Although it will still only be a syntactical validation, and not a semantical validation, which you still have to hardcode in the application (and thus briong the sourcecode to court again, if you end up with problems.))
On the other hand, guaranteed delivery, transmission routes, etc. etc. etc. is handled outside of XML, in some kind of SW, e.g. OTA, IBM MQ or something from Iona.
I see that XML is a bit the tip of the iceberg. The real work lies everywhere else.
I support the notion, that XML works as a catalyzer for starting projects, but it does definately not carry projects home.