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   RE: [xml-dev] What is XML For?

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Where I sit, it's going like this.

More RFPs and RFIs cite XML and that's it. 
Ok.  We can do that.  It's worthless but 
doable.  XMLtoCursor to File.

A few are starting to notice the Federal 
Draft standards for XML Developers.  That's 
generally good.  It means that some decisions 
are already made for naming, etc.  Still, it 
won't get them out of using our version of 
the output.

In a few rare instances, there are real 
schemas.  Most I've seen are tied to the Legal 
XML work.  This is good stuff but tied more 
to court systems and interstate rap sheets. 
Because data flows down to the RMS from multiple 
pipes (NCIC, NLETS, dispatch systems, street 
walk ins, etc), we still have to maintain 
our own internal representation and schema.

I've seen one brilliant bit and that one came 
from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.  This 
one has an example Incident Report in XML plus 
an XSLT stylesheet for transforming it into an 
interactive form.  This is great stuff.  We 
can take it and run and show it to other 
customers as an example of how to do it.  We 
map to it and move on.

The dull news is that as usual, each of these 
groups will work independently and we will face 
a plethora of similar but slightly incompatible 
schemas.  Then XSLT becomes the tool of choice. 
As usual, there will be semantic incompatibilities. 
Negotiation is the word.

However, overall, the problem is not as bad as the 
usual report exports we have to generate for every 
job we do.  So the story for relational records 
management systems is a good one because we don't 
change our schemas or our internal representation. 

We map and do a bit of customization.  No matter 
how I look at that, XML improves the situation because 
as I've said before, the way of XML is almost more 
important than the actual technology.  It provides for 
a public human readable representation and tends toward 
some convergence where enough systems have task 
and conceptual overlaps.  Best practices help and 
OASIS, NIST, etc. are pushing these.


From: Paul Prescod [mailto:paul@prescod.net]

Mark Seaborne wrote:
> Unfortunately, some organisations appear to be taking 
 > the position that because XML is now usable in every
 > tool under the sun, that not only should it be used
 > everywhere, but it can be used everywhere as is.
> So, at least where I work, I get the distinct 
 > impression (hopefully false) that organisations are
 > actually wanting the data interchange format to be
 > what they build new back end systems over, so they
 > don't have to do bother with any transformation.

I agree that this is a problem. That's why I stress that the XML is a 
data representation and not, in general, the implementation's internal 
data model.

  Paul Prescod


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