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Re: [xml-dev] 2007 Predictions

> A key point is that information captured in declarative form is typically
> much easier to extract and repurpose than information encoded
> procedurally.  Get me a table of stock quotes, and I can easily and
> probably securely import it into charting tools, database, AJAX clients,
> etc.  Give me instead a Javascript program which, it is asserted, will
> produce stock quotes as output and for many purposes I'm in much worse
> shape.  ...
> These points are all made somewhat more carefully in the recent TAG
> finding titled: "The Rule of Least Power

This finding reminds me of  the emperor in "Amadeus" telling Mozart that he
used too many notes.  If the Web really did follow the W3C's lead, the
current state-of-the-art web applications would never have been invented.
These tend to download semi-opaque blobs of Javascript which open a side
channel to the server for data, and the data tends to be JSON serialization
of internal objects more than declarative data. I can just hear Sir Tim
saying "It's quality work. There is simply too much power.  Just cut some of
that power and it will be perfect." :-)

Actually, had the web (or certain major vendors with web interests) actually followed the W3C's lead, much of the current welter of conflicting patches and hacks would not have been necessary. The current "flowering" of AJAX evolved largely because of the incompatibilities between browsers (and largely between IE and Mozilla, which has generally hewn MUCH closer to the W3C's vision) and the LACK of adoption of those same standards have forced web developers to push JavaScript to the limit in order to compensate. Don't get me wrong here - I like JavaScript as a language, but I'd have far rather it had gone into being a substrate for instantiating behaviors rather than having to evolve into a semi-heavyweight "foundation" language a la Java or C#. Yes, MS had behaviors first, but outside of Microsoft's own site behaviors were seldom adopted because the implementation was crude, heavy and buggy (I spent four+ years working with the MS behavior interfaces, so I think I have some legitimate authority in saying this).

Simplicity is good - it makes interoperability far easier. However, simplicity in one place usually comes at the expense of complexity somewhere else. It's our job as programmers to take care of the complexity, to manage it and shape it in such a way that the rest of the world only has to deal with that simplicity. XAML's code behind model is actually pretty good in that regard, though I have problems with the way XAML handles namespaces (replacing one form of complexity with another), but that's a pretty minor gripe. The problem is that the efforts that went into that could have just as easily gone into spending a few seasons NOT listening to your customers talk about backwards compatibility and instead working towards developing a universal standard for behaviors, one that WASN'T simply a jobs program for Redmond. I think the opportunity is still there - "text/xhtml" and "application/xhtml+xml" are still not implemented in IE7 and they represent a point where the browser could be "fixed" without pain to your customers.

Behavior driven architectures are fundamentally more secure than raw AJAX - a lesson that TBL laid down very clearly and succinctly at the IW3 conference in Japan in 2005. They are a boon to the enterprise adoption of RIA. The benefits are even there for Microsoft - you lay down a decent XML Binding architecture and you can implement your own XML foundation set on top of it without breaking standards. All you've done is shift the rules of battle up a level of abstraction. My own gut feeling is that this is where things are going anyway, but we've taken a largely unnecessary diversion because of the actions of a few vendors who felt that the simple web was a threat to their way of doing business.

One final point on this - the comment about too many notes here as a metaphor begs whether in fact what's happening in the AJAX space is the genius articulation of a Mozart or the near randomness of a John Cage.

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