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   Re: [xml-dev] Elliotte Rusty Harold on Web Services

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On Mon, 3 Feb 2003 06:53:46 -0500, Elliotte Rusty Harold 
<elharo@metalab.unc.edu> wrote:

> If people want to invent or evolve something that's not XML, go right 
> ahead. But please stop calling it XML! Those of us who have to teach and 
> explain this stuff (and have taught and explained similar topics in the 
> past) have learned from brutal experience that the confusion this 
> approach engenders has massive, real-world costs in developer time and 
> productivity, though these aren't the sorts of costs that can be measured 
> by benchmarking code execution time.

Having done a little of the assigned reading ;-) on philosophy of language 
over the weekend ... Isn't this the "identity problem", e.g. "am I the same 
person that I was 30 years ago even though my cells, appearance, ideas, 
etc. are mostly different"?  I didn't quite follow the reasoning of 
Wittgenstein here, not surprisingly, but I'm pretty sure that I am the same 
person that I was, and that XML 2.x or 3.x will be "XML" even if it 
refactors out some of the stuff that has proven not to work well, or is 
suitable only to a very limited audience, and perhaps makes it available in 
an extension language or via a preprocessor rather than in the core 
definition.  Sure that's confusing to those who want the world to be 
static, but less confusing than the alternatives IMHO.  Change is going to 
occur, the question is whether the Powers that Be anticipate and accomodate 
the forces driving change, or force it to occur via fragmentation.

> The various alternative markup languages people are inventing based on 
> their experience with XML should have their own names too, and should 
> stand or fall based on their own merits, not by falsely claiming to be 
> something they're not.

The world being as it is, I suspect that whatever we "decide" here, the 
data-oriented applications of XML will drive the evolution of a new species 
of markup metalanguage that is more optimized to data, e.g. a more 
programming-like syntax, adding terseness and rapid parsability as design 
goals, and making it easier to compose multipe documents into a single 
legal document, etc.  (I suspect that next generation markup language will 
look more like the RELAX NG compact syntax than XML 1.0, but I digress). 
Still, I think that alternative syntaxes for the Infoset, a more rigorous 
definition of what the XML data model really is, and a more layered 
architecture that allows document and data-oriented users to share what 
they have in common and fork only on what they don't share, can all live in 
the "XML" tent quite comfortably, with a bit of mutual respect and 
flexibility on all sides.

> Java did not call itself C. That was a good thing, though it was clearly 
> an evolution of C.

The history of C -> C++ -> Java -> C# is an interesting thing to ponder in 
this context: to me, it's not self-evident that Java did the right thing in 
forking rather than calling itself "C++--" or whatever.  It went off by 
itself, we've had 5 years of language warfare, and now we have 3 contending 
languages (C++, Java, and C#) that share far more ideas than they disagree 
over, and whose syntax is easily confused for one another. I would prefer 
NOT to do this all over again (speaking of real world costs in developer 
time and productivity!) on the markup language side.    


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