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   Re: [xml-dev] What is XML's appropriate place in an office suite?

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In a message dated 18/04/2003 15:34:12 GMT Daylight Time, cowan@mercury.ccil.org writes:

Empowering the geek *does* empower the user.  Why do ordinary (i.e.
non-software) businesses encourage aftermarkets?  Why don't car manufacturers
weld the hood shut, and when the car doesn't work right, tell you to
wait for next year's model?


With respect the analogy is a poor one.

Welding the bonnet shut wouldn't work. Mechanical components wear out and need replacing in a way which doesn't apply to software components.

The issue about software is that we want to replace/add a component usually with new or improved functionality or reliability. So we are not discussing maintaining a vehicle but creating a new improved model.

If you buy a car you accept that it has a certain maximum speed and can carry a defined number of people. If you want to acquire a higher maximum speed or be able to carry 8 people rather than 4 you will typically have to acquire a new vehicle. Same with a new model/version of proprietary software (although some updates/service packs are "free").

The key here is that we incessantly demand software with new functionality. Taking data out from the data-dataContainer complex is analogous to wanting new functionality in a car. Typically in both situations you need a new model/version.

If data is moved to a new data-dataContainer complex by exporting to XML there is, in effect, a new model of car.

Returning to your comment about "empowering the geek does empower the user". I accept that *may* be the outcome. Whether it is better or worse for the user, or whether it is relevant for the user depends on circumstances. For some uses XML is irrelevant. For others the proprietary vendor package might be better than the XML geek one. Circumstances vary and so does the added value, if any, of "open data".

Andrew Watt


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