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   The XML 500 word Challenge

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 XML is like
    * SGML without configurability
    * HTML without forgivingness
    * LISP without functions
    * CSV without flatness
    * PDF without Acrobat
    * ASN.1 without binary encodings
    * EDI without commercial semantics
    * RTF without word-processing semantics
    * CORBA without tight coupling
    * ZIP without compression or packaging
    * FLASH without the multimedia
    * A DB without a DBMS or DDL or DML or SQL or a formal model
    * A MIME header which does not evaporate
    * Morse code with more characters
    * Unicode with more control characters
    * A mean spoilsport, depriving programmers the fun of inventing
    their own syntaxes during work hours
    * The first step in Mao's journey of a thousand miles
    * The intersection of James Clark and Oracle
    * The common ground between Simon St. L and Henry Thomson
    * The secret love child of Uche and Elliotte
    * Microsoft's secret weapon against Sun's Open Office
    * Sun's secret weapon against Microsoft's Office
    * The town bicycle

In other words, XML is a very thin layer which provides some common
functionality that may be useful in many disparate applications. 

Typical uses are data exchange, protocols, literature processing, information archiving,
hypertext, and configuration files. 

Some of its benefits can be that it is 
    * standard (learn once, use many times, and you don't need to explain the syntax to others), 
    * generalized (can be applied to many kinds of data), 
    * human-readable (not the same thing as "comprehensible") markup, and 
    * it can be parsed and is susceptible to treatment as an artificial language (using tools based 
    on formal grammar theory and parse trees.)

A generic technology will usually be suboptimal for any specific use.  However, 
a generic technology will usually be prefereable when optimality is not mission-critical. 
XML is no different. 

Rick Jelliffe


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