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My take on Roger's original post.
The term "visible web" is already in established use to indicate data that
is available to search engines versus what isn't because it is held in
databases that are accessible only through dynamic Web interfaces.
I think the distinction you're approaching is the distinction between
making XML available to the end user (or their browser) versus making
X/HTML available to the end user.
For a developer, at the present time, sending XML to the browser may lack
a certain appeal because of the limits of browser implementation of XSLT,
particularly XSLT 2.0. Tools available to the developer on the server-end
are far more robust and up-to-date.
Another downside, is that you lose a certain amount of flexibility in
re-purposing the XML. To get the browser to use a stylesheet, you must
embed a link to the stylesheet in the XML. You have to change the source
XML file if you want to apply multiple transforms, like a full view versus
a table of contents.
The quality of the semantic data represented by the mark up is variable
depending on how well the XML (and DTD or schema) are designed. If the
user is looking for grocery lists and keys on unordered lists in X/HTML
they will get a _lot_ of irrelevant data. Furthermore, X/HTML can now be
marked up semantically quite well, for example, <ul class="grocery-list">.
The issue of XML versus X/HTML is one of intended applications and their
capabilities and the quality of the mark up. Since XML processors, via
DTDs and schemas, can be told about mark up in a way that X/HTML
processors cannot, that makes for some sophisticated uses of XML that
aren't available for X/HTML.
As more and more XML becomes available on the web via services and dynamic
pages, there will be more and more use for that XML by "end users". AJAX
leaps to mind here, which can be used to overcome some of the limitation
of current browsers. As long as XML is available via a URL, then
as rendered X/HTML in a variety of ways.
The usefulness of XML and X/HTML to browsers is limited only by our
imaginations and our capacity for good design. What helps here is a
thorough knowledge of our current tools and their capacities and limits.
University of Waterloo Library
"One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to
do and always a clever thing to say."