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   Re: [xml-dev] XDocs and XForms?

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Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
> When did you lose faith in XML as a freedom 
> to innovate and begin to embrace standards 
> as a means to stifle innovation?  

Like all standards, XML is freeing along some vectors and constraining 
along others. Some chafe at its restrictions. Others are freed to 
implement more sophisticated applications by knowing it is available.

The same goes for SVG. If I knew it was always available on every 
browser platform everywhere in the world, it might radically change how 
I develop software. In fact I predict that will happen though it may 
take a few years. XForms is similar but is arguably a little less 

> .... If HTML 
> is a competition-enabler, it quickly proved 
> to be not very apt.

Tell that to the companies that didn't exist before it was invented but 
now have revenues in the hundreds of millions: Amazon, eBay, BEA, Earthlink.

> ... Perhaps some standards 
> are more 'competition enabling' but in my 
> years of doing this, I note that once the 
> vocabulary is moreorless frozen, the numbers 
> of viable implementations quickly drops, not 
> increases.  Standards stifle in that dimension 
> even if they enable a layer above.

I want to get to the layer above.

> Note, I'm not arguing 
> against SVG, just noting that a browser gets 
> bloated if it has to implement all of these forms 
> and that is what limits development, not 
> a spec'd language being a constraint. SVG 
> is YetAnotherVectorMarkup and that's it. 

When combined with SMIL and JavaScript, SVG is much more than a vector 
markup language in the CGM sense.

> The argument with Mike was, why should the 
> browser be considered the centerpiece of the 
> web?   I think the browser competition is
> over for most people given the deployment 
> numbers if one is talking about HTML browsers. 


> IE clearly has won that.

IE will stay in the lead  for as long as Microsoft keeps innovating and 
implementing standards and will lose market share if Microsoft lets it 
stagnate while they concentrate on WinForms or whatever else. I think 
that Microsoft is smarter than to let that happen.

 > ... But the HTML legacy
> makes it fat and I would not be surprised if 
> getting out of the HTML business or at least, 
> getting it off centerstage were not on some 
> minds in Redmond and elsewhere.  If you want 
> to unhorse MS, you will have to change the 
> rules, not use blunt trauma and competitively, 
> standards are blunt instruments.  They can 
> turn a technology into a loss-leader.  It 
> cuts both ways.

Loss leader? Microsoft's competitors in the browser space have nothing 
left to lose! They keep at it out of sheer stubborness, which is the 
same irrational viewpoint that gave us such failures as Apache, Samba, 
Linux and the scripting languages.

> On the other hand, if the web is just plumbing 
> and XML is just a syntactically standard spec'c payload, 
> there is a tremendous new competition in the 
> libraries for creating components that are 
> web-aware but not necessarily wrapped by 
> the HTML framework.  

I don't know what all of that means. Routing around XML in proprietary 
vocabularies does not seem like standardization to me. And an XML router 
is not much of a platform to build interesting client-side apps.

The browser is a means of deploying zero-install, platform-independent, 
URL addressable, client-portable user interfaces. I call the thing that 
allows that collection of features a "browser". If you don't like the 
term browser, call it a Universal Interface Virtual Machine.

I don't care whether it uses XML or Postscript as long as it has those 
features. This platform has stagnated for several years and may for a 
year or so more while the Mozilla project and open source world finds 
its bearings. But it won't go away.

> Starting development from the assumption 
> that one develops for the web by developing 
> for the HTML browser could easily become an 
> obsolete assumption.  No, the browser is 
> still there, but not for everything.  It 
> becomes training wheels for scriptkiddies.

The browser (or UIVM) will never be for everything. But its scope will 
continue to increase and probably will never decrease. There are 
important reasons several billion dollar industries coalesced around a 
zero-install, OS-independent, URL-addressable, client-portable user 
interface deployment platform. Between the Netscape crash and the 
economic situation, we are taking a breath now before the next surge of 
browser innovation. But the ride isn't anywhere near over!

  Paul Prescod


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