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I'm a bit distressed to see the list wander off into the Capitalism
thread, but hey, at least the posts aren't in rhyme!
Anyway, I think the original issue of the Capitalism thread
is worth returning to: what do we know about how technology, business,
society, and/or knowledge evolves that would shed light on whether
RELAX NG is a viable technology in which to invest time, money, and "love"?
* If you believe some crude notion of international capitalism calling the
shots, it's not worth discussing. The unholy Redmond - Redwood Shores - Armonk
- Davos alliance seems to have already chosen W3C XSD, so get to work figuring
* If you believe that "beauty equals truth"
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/26/science/26MATH.html and truth will prevail,
bet on RELAX NG and start writing tools to support it.
* If you think the world is more complex, and that both the private agendas of
the huge companies (who, let's face it, drove the W3C XSD requirements and are
its stauchest defenders) and the selection process driven by the
Blind Watchmaker / Invisible Hand will interact to
determine RNG's fate, we've got a lot to think about.
First, what are the needs that drove the requirements for XSD so far beyond what
most of us think of as the 80/20 point? AFAIK, it was a) the need to map
complex databases and enterprise application data to XML so that data could be
mapped to exchanged across systems and applications ... and b) the need to
support schema evolution more cleanly, i.e. make minor changes to RDBMS or XML
schemas without breaking everything or forcing a simultaneous update of systems
all over the world. Does XSD really meet those needs? Can it be implemented
consistently to do so? Sooner or later I have to think that it will ... either
the spec will be revised by the W3C or (more likely?) some sort of informal
"schema interoperability organization" will figure out the profile of the W3C
spec that meets the real needs of the Big Guys.
Second, how long will that take? The hype machine giveth, but the hype machine
taketh away, and one can imagine the "buzz" turning against W3C and XSD and
mega-XML in the meantime. Will that happen? That depends on whether you think
of the creators of buzz/hype as the paid servants of the Big Guys or not. I
personally don't ... I think that hype has a life of its own, but since XML/XSD
is supported by EVERYBODY and nobody but a few lonely voices in the wilderness
is objecting, one can make a plausible argument that this time the hype cycle
won't slide down the trough of disillusionment. We shall see.
IMHO, in the long run, the Blind Watchmaker beats the monopolists and the
hypemeisters every time. Complex systems (or specification) will only survive if
they are assembled out of reliable components that can stand on their own. If a
spec or a product is propped up only by monopolistic business practices or paid
hypesters, sooner or later the environment will change, and systems and
subsystems will have to survive on their intrinsic merits. Herbert Simon's
essay "The Architecture of Complexity" (I like this summary:
http://www.netage.com/Learning/Publications/Seybold/Seybold9_2-90.html) is the
classic explanation in the context of computer science.
I don't know whether RNG will "win", or XSD will be cleaned up and rebuilt out
of more reliable components, or (most likely) the best features of both will be
subsumed by some trancendent synthesis that we can't yet envision. I simply
can't imagine RNG becoming irrelevant, however. It seems worthy of study and
support; even if what we use in 5 or 10 years is not called "RELAX", it will owe
much to the efforts of Murata, Clark, et. al.