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   An XML community standards resource? [was frustration]

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> The subject line of this thread accurately describes my sentiments regarding
> W3C standardization efforts. I know this path has been trod many times
> before, and I don't want to initiate another spate of unfocused W3C bashing.
> At the same time, I believe firmly that the strong feelings that the new
> XPath and XQuery specs have aroused on this list point to a real problem,
> and that this is a procedural and not a technical issue.
> Like so many other areas of human activity (Murali uses the example of
> academic research), standards efforts are driven by ego. The organizational
> structure of the W3C is such that (as someone already pointed out) people
> are much more willing to fight for features they want than to fight against
> features they don't want. The result is that the newer specs are
> frighteningly bloated and ignore the very principles that have made XML
> successful (such as the 10 -- or 9 -- design goals that Tim Bray mentioned).
> I wonder if there is a better model that can be explored for creating new
> XML specs. I am thinking about something similar to the approach used by
> Open Source software, which very effectively harnesses the large egos of
> great programmers to create great software (see Eric Raymond's "The
> Cathedral and the Bazaar" and other works). Recent mention on this list of
> Darwin and Adam Smith seems very apt in this regard. At the very least, some
> plausible competition to the W3C would result in improved vigor of the
> resultant XML standards. In the best case, we would actually find a model
> that works better than the 75-company-representatives-in-a-room approach.
> As far as I'm concerned, the W3C set itself up for this by releasing the XML
> Schema spec. I'm sick of hearing people, even rabid XML advocates like
> Simon, starting to doubt the validity of the whole endeavor because of this
> one misguided effort. Now that the spec is polluting newer specs like XPath
> 2.0, it is time to start discussing alternatives seriously.
> In pursuing the open source parallel, I would suggest that a website be set
> up where individuals or small groups can submit proposals for
> specifications. These would then be opened to discussion on a mailing list.
> When consensus is reached, they would be published formally as "Authorized
> Specifications" or whatever. This might not be the same as having the
> approval of an international standards body, but the W3C isn't a real
> standards body either in this regard (it is a dictatorship that issues
> "Recommendations"). There needs to be some coordination with XML-focused
> open source development groups to ensure that the specs are actually
> implemented. Maybe this could even be done as part of/an extension of the
> Apache effort. The W3C can go on doing its academic style research, and this
> will doubtless provide invaluable input.
> I'm very serious about this. This discussion has been going on for a long
> time (I published a "rant" about this over two years ago --
> http://www.schemantix.com/resources/rants/rants_2.html), but it is now time
> for action. I am personally willing to devote time and resources to setting
> this up. Is anyone else?

I've been having this dicsussion with colleagues lately (some of whom I'm sure will jump on this thread).

I agree something like this has come necessary, but I'd make an IMO important tweak to the idea.  I think what is needed is an index/encyclopedia of community standards for XML.  This could host links, descriptions, mirrors, and commentary on such efforts as SAX, the work of the XML:DB group, relevant JSRs, relevant standards started in other languages (e.g. XBEL from Python), and even selected works of the W3C and OASIS.

Each hosted section would have some sort of liaison with the originating group.  i suppose sort of the Debian maintainer model, who would be responsible for keeping things up to date and moderating comments, etc.

As a secondary development, the site could host community efforts entirely, SourceForge style, I guess.  But I think the centralized reference with authorities elected by the community would be the most important function.  People with no place to host their efforts can always use SourceForge itself.

Uche Ogbuji                                    Fourthought, Inc.
http://uche.ogbuji.net    http://4Suite.org    http://fourthought.com
Track chair, XML/Web Services One (San Jose, Boston): http://www.xmlconference.com/
DAML Reference - http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/05/01/damlref.html
The Languages of the Semantic Web - http://www.newarchitectmag.com/documents/s=2453/new1020218556549/index.html
XML, The Model Driven Architecture, and RDF @ XML Europe - http://www.xmleurope.com/2002/kttrack.asp#themodel


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