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Re: XML as salvage yard (was RE: James Clark: XML versusthe We

  • From: Liam R E Quin <liam@w3.org>
  • To: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • Date: Fri, 03 Dec 2010 18:46:21 -0500

Re:  XML as salvage yard (was RE: James Clark: XML versusthe We
On Wed, 2010-12-01 at 10:31 -0500, Simon St.Laurent wrote:
> There's been virtually no angst over which pieces of XML mattered.  XML 
> syntax has been a constant in the markup, but apart from the original 
> DocBook DTDs schemas haven't mattered, and namespaces barely figured in. 
>   The core of the project has been ever-evolving markup constructs that 
> we'll reuse in a largely unconstrained way.

Yuri Rubinsky used to talk about SGML as being a bit like the elephant
being described by a group of blind people, each encountering a
different part of the animal.

Schemas are really important to some people and irrelevant to many
others.  Namespaces are a pain to everyone ;-) but met some people's

> "SGML on the Web" was completely a failure, at least as 
> originally articulated,

There's some truth in that, but, it brought the idea of declarative
markup to the attention of a much wider community of people.

> There are lots of good parts here, but I don't see the critical mass 
> needed to do to XML what XML itself did to SGML.

Right, I agree. In particular, incompatible changes to XML that are
proposed from time to time would do things like break people's
television sets, car engines, 'plane navigation, ipod-shoes, and
goodness knows what else. You'd need a _really_ compelling reason to
move to an XML 2.0 right now.

Of course, it's possible that JSON will give the necessary incentive:
an XML that's as usable by programmers as JSON, but still useful for
document engineering. But I doubt it - the reason JSON is easier is that
it's not doing the hard parts, and once you include those you start to
get the complexity again.


Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/
Ankh: irc.sorcery.net irc.gnome.org www.advogato.org

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