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Re: [xml-dev] XML's place in the world


We've talked on this before, so you probably know my own feelings there, but I'm also inclined to see things from a somewhat different perspective.

Overall, I think that the entire IT sector is undergoing a fairly profound change; we've been building out frameworks in everything from web components to data abstractors to enterprise pipelines, and a surprisingly large amount of that ultimately comes back down to better distributed messaging. This means a much reduced need for programmers of any sort, especially advanced programmers, as subject domain experts increasingly take on the roles that dedicated programmers once performed.

XML is the language for enterprise messaging. However, XML has been subsumed in the toolkits to the extent that for many people, unless they happen to be working at the toolkit development level, it simply isn't visible. I think that there is something of an uptick on the XQuery side in the last year or so, but XQuery is tied to the hip with XML Databases, and while their use is growing, the market is still very, very tiny compared to the RDBMS market - except in the document sector. However, as more people start weaning themselves from the false document/data dichotomy, I see that changing.
SemWeb is probably resonating more on your radar at this point because it is a technology that seems important, even though overall the SemWeb space is still perhaps maybe one fiftieth the size of XML adoption, and most of that, when you strip the fancy veneer off and just look at the technology, still ultimately comes back down to microtagging. The number of true RDF/OWL applications out there that have gained any real traction could be listed on two hands - and I really do not see that changing much before 2015.

I don't think that XML technologies will ever reach a level even remotely close to its prominence when it was first introduced as far as book sales, but that's not really that surprising. As a technology it's mature, and because it's pervasive there's really very little need for adding yet another book out there when you can find what you're looking for within a few minutes with Google.

Something that I think it worth noting is that for all the volubility of the AJAX crowd, JSON messaging is no longer really gaining traction against XML messaging, and may actually be shrinking. Admittedly, I'm biased in this regard, but I think as AJAX itself matures and toolkits become more "enterprise hardened" (and as RESTful services become more dominant), the mismatch between XML and JSON at the business level is a fairly significant impedance barrier to pervasive adoption.

Few major changes in the core specs translates into little need for new books (the same can be said for Java, which has moved from "evolving" language to "static" language, and I know Java sales are probably down significantly as well).

At least that's my impression - I'd be curious to hear others.

Kurt Cagle
Managing Editor

On Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 9:08 AM, Simon St.Laurent <simonstl@simonstl.com> wrote:
Peter Hunsberger wrote:
The one place I still see a need for such types of XML is when you're
doing cross domain integration and signatures, encryption,
authentication, etc. become part of the exchange process.  JSON
doesn't seem to have all the pieces lined up to push XML (SOAP or
otherwise) out of this space (yet)?

That's an excellent point, especially on the data interchange front. Much of that infrastructure is tightly bound to XML as well, so isn't easily replaced.

There's a lot of capability that has been built around XML that still
needs to be replicated in the other spaces so I think it would be
premature to declare any kind of overwhelming trend.  At this point I
perceive what is going on as more as people reacting to the flaws in
the current XML world and testing out alternate strategies to see if
they do any better.  Whether these alternate strategies will, in the
long run, grow to have as many capabilities (and flaws) as XML remains
to be seen?

Fair enough.  I think another way of putting it is that XML is slowly losing its status as the default format in fields where it once seemed (rightly or wrongly) the obvious answer.

Simon St.Laurent


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