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   Re: RE: [xml-dev] Painful USA Today article (was RE: [xml-dev] ANN:RESTT

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On Tue, 21 May 2002, Mike Champion wrote:

> 5/21/2002 3:39:12 PM, Betty Harvey <harvey@eccnet.com> wrote:
> >XML has so much promise in so many areas.  From my personal perspective I
> >am seeing the demand for XML dwindling.  Some of it may be because of the
> >economy but I believe a lot of it is because of the confusion around the
> >competing specifications.  Organizations that were seriously thinking
> >about starting XML projects have taken a 'wait and see' attitude.
> Hmmm .... Assuming this is true (and I don't have any evidence to
> contradict it), why is this happening, and what can be done about it?

I am using my own barometer to measure the demand.  As you may know I
organize the Washington Area XML Users Group.  The Users Group is very
healthy and attendence is good - which I would take as a measure of
organizational interest.  However, in recent months quite a few good
people have been laid off because consulting companies have gone out of
business, are stopping XML consulting, downsizing, etc.  Independent
consultants are looking for work.  A year and a half ago, I was receiving
2-3 job announcements from various companies to post to the group.  I
haven't had a company (except for the Senate) send me a job announcement
to post in over six months.  This is happening while the economy is
beginning to grow.

> I wonder whether we're seeing the deflation of over-inflated expectations,
> the failure to achieve realistic expectations, or the false perception
> that expectations haven't been achieved.  I think there's a bit of the
> first and last.  The GAO report keeps coming to mind -- any assumption
> that competitive industries or infighting agencies would agree on the
> One True XML DTD/Schema was absurd from the beginning, and this has nothing
> to do with technology.   On the other hand,
> if XML's ability to meet realistic expectations -- it's a vendor/platform/
> language-neutral syntax for document and data interchange, with a suite
> of tools to facilitate building applications to do this -- is evaluated,
> I think it has to be considered a success. Just as Wall Street analysts'
> expectations have to be skillfully managed for a company's finances to
> be considered successful, expectations about technology have to be
> skillfully managed to achieve the right mix of enthusiasm and skepticism
> that would avoid the hype overshoot and collapse phenomenon.

I don't think that we can say that XML isn't a success.  I think XML is a
BIG success story.  However, with the proliferation of specifications it
is still confusing to organizational management.  Also, the fact that XML
kind of got lumped in the dot.com problems didn't help.  I believe that
XML is also a scapegoat in a way - better than blaming overspending and
venture capitalists handing out money without having sound business plans
from the companies.  There was a lot of hype surrounding XML.  It is
better to blame the technology rather than the organization.  Several
companies that I trained their technical and managerial staff on XML are
no longer in existence - it shouldn't have happened and it is sad - very

> So what's to be done?  I hope nobody takes away the message that it's
> the confusion about the competing specs rather than the intrinsic
> confusingness of trying to solve many problems at once that is at the
> root of the problem here.  Would anyone seriously argue that XML
> would be taken more seriously if RELAX NG and other challenges to
> the orthodoxy just went away?  I suspect that the best way forward is
> to define what it is that we all agree works, refactor the specs
> to put all this at the core, experiment with various ways to built
> on top of the core, but freely admit that we're exploring
> multiple ideas about schemas, query languages, web services architectures,
> etc. and the *real* standards for these aren't baked yet.

I still think the multiple competing schemas is problematic.  I would
really like to see RELAX NG win.  However, it is a hard sell to
upper management because the perception is that if you have the W3C
stamp of approval "then it has to be the way to go".  I have talked
this issue "DTD/W3C Schema/RELAX NG" until I am blue in the face. There
is this perception that you can only have 1, DTD, W3C or Schema.  I
have been able to convince a few companies to do more than one - but
of course there is a configuration issue too.  No one has agreed to

> My experience as an "evangelist" for this stuff is that people want an
> honest assessment of what's solid, what's promising, and what sounded like
> a good idea but isn't panning out very well.  That goes over well, and
> (from my rather tangential involvement in the business side) leads to
> real revenue.  It's the "it's going to be GREAT!!! ... just as soon as
> a bunch of vendors implement thousands of pages of specs and your
> industry gets past petty competitive concerns and builds an XML
> schema that suits everyone's needs" story that leads to the "wait
> and see" attitude... at least in my limited experience and biased
> opinion.

I think you are right.  I was working on a project last year that came
to a halt because they wanted to 'wait for ebXML'.  It was a bit
disheartening to say the least.


Betty Harvey                         | Phone: 410-787-9200 FAX: 9830
Electronic Commerce Connection, Inc. |
harvey@eccnet.com                    | Washington,DC SGML/XML Users Grp
URL:  http://www.eccnet.com          | http://www.eccnet.com/xmlug/


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