Re: Why do we write standards?
At 03:01 AM 11/8/99 -0500, David Megginson wrote: >When you standardize, the benefits that you hope to achieve stem >mainly from the network effect -- lower development costs and greater >interoperability spring immediately to mind. These benefits are so >powerful (and so tempting) that they often lead people to rush to >standardization. > >On the other hand, standardization has many costs, of which the most >obvious are the initial cost of implementing more than you need to >(since standards are necessarily a superset of the needs of any >specific set of users) and the risk of committing to an inappropriate >solution prematurely and squashing real innovation. I'm not opposed to standards development, but I think David is very right to question the 'rush to standards' that seems to have infected the XML world. I've written on this previously (http://www.simonstl.com/articles/doubting.htm) and will be writing on it a lot more to come, but I'm deeply disturbed by how many people seem to think that creating standards is the end-all and be-all of XML. It's not just about 'proprietary' vs. 'open' - in large part, I'm concerned that there are enormous costs involved where standardization takes place before the relationships and information involved are actually sorted out in practice. Modeling relationships is especially complicated when the relationships themselves aren't genuinely standardized. (Indeed, it's easy to question what portion of these relationships should be standardized.) XML itself took a brilliant (though somewhat compromised) approach - defining a minimum set of tools that could be used by the widest range of users. That foundation - elements and attributes - provides much more powerful and flexible structures than was readily available before. We've got the core set. Why not let users experiment with that basic set of tools before we try to slap them in straitjackets? I hear people on this list insisting on the need for constraints, for fixed structures, for all that stuff that made sense when computers were (relatively) slow and stupid and data structures were hard to convert from one form to another. I'd love to leave that baggage behind and recognize that we might have something genuinely new in XML, a flexible toolkit that can break the rules we've grown accustomed to over the last fifty years of computing. XML can break new ground between the formal structures computers are best at and the more natural structures that reflect how people communicate with each other, not with machines. It may not seem realistic to the usual gang of IT people, but I'd like to see this more flexible approach given a chance before we suffocate it with experts running around developing standards. Let local organizations figure out the tactics before larger organizations create strategies that may or may not work. Simon St.Laurent XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed. Building XML Applications Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical Sharing Bandwidth / Cookies http://www.simonstl.com xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev@i... Archived as: http://www.lists.ic.ac.uk/hypermail/xml-dev/ and on CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1 To unsubscribe, mailto:majordomo@i... the following message; unsubscribe xml-dev To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo@i... the following message; subscribe xml-dev-digest List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa@i...)
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