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   finding new directions

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A number of recent commentaries [1,2] have noted that permathreads are
dominating places like these, and the recent pieces on XML's fifth
birthday [3,4,5] are making me take XML's maturity seriously [6].  My
favorite question comes from Kendall Clark:

"Giving the journalists something new to talk about isn't motivation
enough for anyone to break new XML ground, but would it kill ya?"

The journalist side of me keeps asking the markup junkie side of me the
same question.  The last koan I really considered worth the trouble, the
trainwreck of URIs, pretty much dissolved for me with Bill deHora's
"many-to-many" suggestion.  The TAG can continue drawing on whiteboards
if they want [7], but I'm happy to leave that one alone.

I think we've successfully dredged the XML 1.0 specification for every
nit, and interpreted and reinterpreted Namespaces in XML to ensure that
a diverse variety of choices will be available in the archives for
eternity.  XSLT and W3C XML Schema have largely migrated to their own
forums, XLink and XPointer (sadly enough) never really generated traffic
here anyway, and most language-specific development has been on its own
lists for a long time.

There is still a lot of exciting implementation out there.  Topologi's
work is fascinating and different from the crowd, and Microsoft Office
certainly seems bent on ensuring that XML will have a future in some
form on the desktop, even though it largely missed with browsers. The
DSDL work [8], including RELAX NG, continues to be extremely promising,
offering interesting paths forward.

In a lot of ways, though, I'm still surprised by how little has been
accomplished in tools for working closely with markup in five years, and
suspect we'd all probably do well to dig in for a while and focus on
building tools, figuring out new ways to explain this stuff to people,
and helping people evaluate where and how XML can help or hurt them.  

That's a lot of what this list did in its earliest days, though I'll
certainly confess to having participated in bringing it to more general
discussion.  I think XML needed - and still needs - a place where
developers can talk about issues that go well above the level of "how do
I implement this?", but I also suspect that after all these years we've
at least resolved a lot of those issues to stable if not singular sets
of answers.

For myself, I'm going to be ridiculously occupied for the next few
months on one of those "explaining" kinds of projects, as well as trying
to finish writing some tools that delve deeper into the parsing process.
I'll still be around, certainly, but I think it might be time to take my
own advice, and enjoy "a period of quiet".  There's a lot left to do,
but finding it and doing it will take some thought.

[1] - http://weblogs.userland.com/eclectic/2003/02/05
[2] - http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2003/02/12/deviant.html
[3] - http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2003/02/12/xml-at-5.html
[4] - http://news.com.com/2009-1001-983871.html
[5] - http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/2788
[6] - http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/2798
[7] - http://www.w3.org/2003/02/06-tag-summary
[8] - http://dsdl.org

Simon St.Laurent
Ring around the content, a pocket full of brackets
Errors, errors, all fall down!
http://simonstl.com -- http://monasticxml.org


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