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Whither XML ?

  This note is probably on a somewhat different topic .  It deals broadly with issues for future XML standardization efforts.

   During the last decade there has been an amazing development of XML based standards and of the capabilities that they can support.  However many of these are in limbo, many are not supported, others are poorly coordinated, inconsistent, and overly complex.  For new capabilities the development and, more tellingly, the adoption cycle is long and complex.

    At one time, there was a considerable simplification made in going from SGML to HTML.  This simplification also allowed for a development of greatly expanded capabilities.  It seems that now is the time for an analogous effort in transforming XML with the objective of also leading to considerable simplification and expanded capabilities. 

   Clearly there are issues of syntax simplification which can be addressed.  More fundamental though are semantic issues.

   The first insight here is that XML standards generally support various models, including models for other models.  Fundamental generic models to be supported with broad and consistent capabilities are application models for data( physical and logical views, metadata, etc.), for presentation(HTML, Open office, SVG, CSS, etc.), for communication and for control (data and work flow, state machines, etc.).   As with the Model/View/Controller paradigm, these together can provide a complete, unified and consistent framework for application development.

    The second insight here that these models are based on a specification language, rather than a procedural language, and that, as a specification language there are considerable improvements that can be made to XML fundamentals to ease development and interactions among these and other models.  For instance it should be possible to deal with schema, style sheets, metadata, data content, etc. in a common and consistent way. 

    Basically then this is a recognition that what started as a “markup” language can serve well as a “models” language.

    The objective here then is to create a complete and consistent specification language that forms the basis for developers to create executable application frameworks based on generic models for data, presentation, communication and processing.  A secondary objective is to create a base whereby it is simpler to develop and adopt new standards.

    In that this is meant to be a somewhat revolutionary approach, a primary concern is compatibility.  This needs to be addressed; for instance, with alternative language processing and through extended and alternate “infosets” which can be supported by a common agent. 

   Much of this is outlined in more detailed documentation that is under development and can be made available.

   This note is to inquire if there is interest in the community in pursuing such a fundamental look at approaches for the further development of XML standards.


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