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RE: [xml-dev] Too much power? was RE: [xml-dev] 2007 Predictions

From: Kurt Cagle [mailto:kurt.cagle@gmail.com] 
Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2007 4:28 PM
To: Michael Champion
Cc: XML Developers List
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Too much power? was RE: [xml-dev] 2007 Predictions

I'm not sure what I said to inspire this very fine rant, but let me respond
to a couple of points.

> For years, there are two messages that have consistently come from
Microsoft - 

Only two? :-) I would have thought there would be a lot more inconsistent
messages, considering that nobody below Steve Ballmer is really in charge of
something as pervasive and multifaceted as XML, and that every team has a
somewhat different take on it. 

This reality is not widely appreciated outside Redmond -- there's no grand
XML strategy coming from the top down, there's a zillion little project
proposals and bug reports and customer requests and competitive moves being
noticed and processed bottom up.  If things like SVG or XForms support
aren't happening, it's a good bet that nobody in a relevant team can make a
compelling case for spending money on it.  If some customers who need SVG or
XForms support in the browser migrate to Firefox, so be it -- the whole
point of XML is interoperability across platforms and applications.  Of
course if so many people need technologies we don't support badly enough to
migrate away from a revenue-generating product to get it, that's another
story entirely.  That kind of thing does happen, e.g. the surge in demand
for ODF support in Office after Office 2007 was locked down.  Unless the
competitors spend gazillions of lobbying bucks advocating SVG and XForms as
the Only Real Standards,  I don't think that is likely to happen.  

> I think before throwing stones, it would be worth taking a good hard look 
> at where the rest of the world (Microsoft's potential customers) are going

That's pretty much how I spend my pathetic life, and I hear extremely few
actual or plausible customers expressing the views on the importance of the
second-generation XML standards that you are espousing.  It appears that
people want solid, performant implementations of the very basic XML specs
and tools to make them usable.  The few exceptions, e.g. people voting with
their feet against IE's stasis or the outpouring of love for XSLT2 (and
indifference to the old story about XQuery in .NET), convince me that it's
not just a matter of MS not listening to the customers, or existing
customers blindly obeying the mind control rays emanating from Redmond.  The
reality I see is that most of the benefit from XML comes from the simple
fact that it is the universally supported way of exchanging data.  The
actual benefits from and demand for other XML-related technologies drops
very steeply once you move outside geekdom. 

> If all I'm looking for is a list of scheduled flights sorted by time, then

> yes, I would choose the first. The point I don't understand here is that 
> this has nothing to do with JSON or XML - it is a matter of what is
exposed by the data provider. 

My point is that the travel *service* is offering a lot more than simply the
data -- it's combining and processing the data and providing consumable
answers or physical world actions.  Interoperable data is a Good Thing, but
it's not the only thing that's important.

> Put another way (and to get back to your analogy) - I need a certain
voltage and 
> amperage to run my computer. I rely upon the energy grid to insure that
there is 
> comparatively little variability in the line, and I rely upon a
> to get just the precise amount of power that's needed to keep my laptop

At some point in the future, that will be a good analogy.  At the moment a
more apt analogy seems to be Edison saying "DC current is all you need, just
learn to live with that clunky generator on every block" ... but there are
lots of Teslas out there offering more and different kinds of power.  Real
standards will come along *behind* innovation. As you note most of the W3C
is doing a good job of accepting and adapting to this reality.  It's the
people who want to lead with committee-generated standards or authoritative
pronouncements, as opposed to following up on successful innovations with
standards, that I object to.

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