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Re: [xml-dev] Victory has been declared in the schema wars ...

A perspective from the commercial application development world (my
clients are Fortune 500 application development organizations):

Schema war? What schema war? You mean there's something other than XML Schema?

We've published a number of reports over the last few years that talk
about the simplicity advantages of RNG over XSD. But, to date, I've
had just one client question come in regarding XSD vs RNG. (That was
from a federally funded research lab.)


On 11/28/06, Len Bullard <cbullard@hiwaay.net> wrote:
> Opinions:
> Elliotte wrote a good article.  I don't think the wars are over by any
> means, but the points I took away are that XSD is harder than needed for the
> job and that support of the W3C is eroding in that developers don't
> immediately accept their work as authoritative and will look for
> alternatives.  Competition is good for quality.  It can also be the source
> of FUD.
> XSD vs RELAX acceptance by Geeks is the critical issue.  Geeks write
> schemas.  Management executives don't.  Management executives often set
> policy for the platform on which products are accepted.  If that platform is
> Windows and Visual Studio where schema generation is more or less automatic
> and hides the schemas, a self-fulfillling prophecy is in place for your
> customer base.  At Intergraph, a Microsoft thrall kingdom if ever there was
> one, our developers were encouraged to ignore schemas altogether.  The rub
> was that meant they also ignored GJXDM (an XSD schema for justice systems).
> The rub in that was GJXDM was demanded by customers for new public safety
> systems as a result of the work at the Justice Department.  As a result of
> that, we were bidding support for a standard that we had no serious effort
> in place to support.  This catches up to the Microsoft customer when their
> customer wants to pursue liquidated damages and that failure to support the
> feature is part of the decision.  When that work was begun, RELAX didn't
> exist.  The same was true of the schema for X3D.   Momentum and timing
> created the feedback that sustains the self-fulfilling prophecy.  GJXDM is a
> horror.  X3D's schema gets very little use by the 3D community although the
> XML encoding is steadily claiming more mindshare because of the tools
> available such as XSLT and the improved object model features such as
> removing the restrictions on event interfaces to and from inlines.    In
> short, requirements, contracts and face saving are creating a not
> inconsiderable and costly mess.
> A company such as Microsoft that has the dominant, some say monopoly, on the
> desktop market has a responsibility to field the best technology possible.
> So the decision based on customer demand has to be adjusted for the
> historical AND technical conditions in play.   As a result, Vista goes
> forward with XAML and not XUL.  Microsoft created the Web 2.0 movement with
> the innovation in what has become known as XMLHttp.   It enabled attached
> behaviors in the CSS language.  It provides tools that are highly productive
> by hiding details of application building.
> I'd say given the above, Microsoft, and you Michael given your job, have to
> take it beyond the real-world paying customer and look at the technology.
> Is it the best?  Is it usable by the customers who use it, not the ones who
> pay the bills?   Are the features being used the reason for support and not
> the source, and if so, what are those features and can they be more
> productively used with the alternative?
> Microsoft will release Vista soon.  That will be a sea change.  If there is
> internal Microsoft resistance to Relax it is possibly that Vista's
> interfaces to SQLServer are even more deeply coupled.  If so, I can
> understand the resistance because a bet made has to be played or folded and
> the bet is too big to fold.  I can also understand why some of those who are
> on the bandwagon for RELAX are pressing it because they are Microsoft
> competitors and undermining the Microsoft products and sales are what they
> do to compete.  Given that, your job is to sort the FUD from the facts.   I
> believe you will find that the demand for RELAX from your customer base when
> not FUD is coming from the experts who use the technology a lot.  I believe
> you will find that the rest of it is a mixed bag such that simply counting
> yes/no votes doesn't tell you much.   So finally you will have to evaluate
> the technology on its own merits.
> XSD is awfully overbuilt in my opinion.  Solicit the opinions of your
> engineers about the issues of implementing it for ALL of the products that
> have to support it.  Because people who have solved problems defend the
> problems because they own the solutions, even those sources are biased but
> all sources are for different reasons.  Adjust accordingly then make your
> best recommendation.
> len
> -----Original Message-----
>  From: Michael Champion [mailto:mc@xegesis.org]
>  Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 11:25 PM
>  To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
>  Subject: [xml-dev] Victory has been declared in the schema wars ...
> I see that Elliotte Harold has declared the schema wars over, and Tim Bray,
> Don Park, and others have piled on.  That would be great news, except for
> the little detail that the non-cognoscenti don't seem to know or care.
> As I've probably written here before, part of my Day Job entails keeping
> track of real-world paying customer demand for XML standards that Microsoft
> doesn't support, and making the business case to do so when warranted.  When
> I started this job two years ago, I was all set to pull together all the
> arguments for supporting RELAX NG in the Microsoft native and managed stacks
> and help lead the world out of the darkness. I was rather quickly
> disillusioned; as Dare mentioned when he had the job, virtually  nobody in
> our ecosystem actually asks Microsoft to support RNG.  What people do
> demand, rather loudly and frequently, is for the various XSD tools to
> interoperate. (Well, what they really clamor for is XSLT 2.0, but that's not
> controversial!)  XSD interoperability been a struggle, but as far as I can
> tell an immense amount of progress has been made in the last few years.
> We are now at a bit of an inflection point- the "1.0" generation of XML
> specs is pretty universally, and more or less correctly, implemented on most
> commercially important platforms and languages.  People are asking "what's
> next"?  Where should we (the XML community collectively) invest to move data
> interoperability to the next level?  There are plenty of semi-contending
> options, including Schematron, XSD 1.1, the optional schema-aware features
> of XSLT/XQuery, JSON (which has a bare bones datatyping capability), the
> semantic web technologies (some people think of OWL as softof like a a
> schema language …), and of course RELAX NG. Sure, some can be seen as
> complementary or orthogonal to one another, but they DO compete for
> mindshare development/testing/documentation/education
> resources.
> I have a few specific questions:
> -          Is this groundswell of RELAX NG adoption coming from anywhere
> besides XML geekdom?
> -          What about XSD 1.1 (which clarifies some of the nastier corners
> of the spec and addresses the very limiting lack of occurrence constraints)?
>  Is there any awareness of / demand for *it* outside geekdom? And, ahem, to
> what extent is this "RNG – Mission Accomplished" meme an attempt to strangle
> it in the cradle? :-)
> -          Are the non-geeks  who consume RNG schemas doing so by
> translating them to XSD for production use (or using the non-normative XSD
> variants of the standards)?
> -          What about the people who use XML for "data" rather than
> "documents"?   Is RELAX NG just another fault line in that  dochead  /
> datahead schism, or are people finding ways to bind objects and databases to
> XML via RELAX NG as well as with XSD?
> -          Do the paying customers of the world REALLY hate XSD that much
> more than they hate XML itself, especially namespaces and the APIs?  I get
> the impression that "it sux,  but it sux less than not having a data
> interchange standard" is about the most love we can hope for from the
> teeming masses who don't subscribe to xml-dev.
> -          Given the rather sad track record of "The Right Thing"
> technologies in the eternal battle against "it sucks but you have to use it
> anyway" technologies, why exactly should we "tear down the shaky towers with
> XSD in their foundation", as Tim put it?  5 years ago I wholeheartedly
> agreed, but at this point it seems likely that XML itself will get buried in
> the rubble if the XSD towers are pulled down.
> The whole point of XML for interoperability is lost if the XML communities
> centered on different platforms move in different directions on the question
> of what the real foundation standards are, so I think we all have a stake in
> getting some clear answers.  Thoughts appreciated!

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