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Re: Tim Bray on "Which Technologies Matter?"

Re:  Tim Bray on "Which Technologies Matter?"
Rick Jelliffe wrote:
> Sure people are still using them :-)  Because XML has not provided any extra
> or equivalent functionality for people who need to mark pre-existing material up,
> it has not made inroads into many of the traditional SGML markup shops.
> XML has not really helped people who need to mark up pre-existing material, has it?
> OMITTAG, SHORTTAG and SHORTREF (i.e. the optional features of SGML that
> proved themselves useful) were all oriented to markup minimization.  Terseness
> is of minimal importance in XML.

Fair enough. My experience, however, is that the "average" company
consuming SGML or XML does not actually do its own markup of legacy text
but rather outsources it. So we're talking about an extremely
specialized market here.

> Because XML makes content creation more difficult than SGML, it naturally
> gravitates towards DBMS systems rather than starving for lack of input.

XML makes tool-less content creation harder than SGML. But if you're
using XMetaL or FrameMaker+SGML then why would you care whether the tree
you were editing is serialized as XML or SGML? Even if I grant that
sometimes it makes sense to do markup of legacy data with a simple text
editor I wouldn't agree that that's appropriate for the creation of new
content in an enterprise environment.

> So XML becomes more and more a middleware-to-backend interchange
> format, rather than having much to do with publishing or having content to
> manage. 

That's different from what I hear from companies like XMetaL and
Documentum. I believe that their customers use XML for publishing.

> ...
> AFAICS, XML is no more thriving on the desktop than SGML ever was.

Generic markup will never be mass market. But OpenOffice, StarOffice and
KOffice support XML as a serialization for their internal formatting
model. That's better than where we were five years ago when you had to
pay an arm and a leg to get your data into an even-wellformed state.

> And, indeed, the marketing that XML is better than SGML for all uses may have
> put on hold the spread of the complex document systems down from publishers
> to the next tier of sophisticated users.

I don't know that users (even sophisticated ones!) want complex document

 Paul Prescod


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