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Re: RE: James Clark: XML versus the Web

  • From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
  • To: XML Developers List <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2010 13:04:20 +0200

Re:  RE: James Clark: XML versus the Web
On Dec 1, 2010, at 02:59, Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote:

> On Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 6:47 PM, Amelia A Lewis <amyzing@talsever.com> wrote:
>> I'm increasingly of the opinion that XML "jumped the shark" with the
>> XML Namespaces specification.
> Namespaces was at least the nose of the shark. I think we really
> should have insisted that prefixes not be able to be bound to more
> than one URI in the same document.

I think the biggest mistakes of XML regardless of Web or non-Web deployment were:
 1) Namespaces (everyone who uses XML is paying the RDF tax and now the RDF community doesn't even like RDF/XML anymore!)
 2) Draconian error handling
 3) Failing to get rid of DTDs completely at XML 1.0.

I think the biggest additional mistake on top of that as far as Web usage goes was that an XML processor wasn't defined in such a way that HTML existing on the Web at the time of defining XML 1.0 could have been parsed using an XML processor. I realize that at the time, the idea of defining a processor with the constraint of being able to process existing Web content was outside the Overton Window.

> Schemas are bad, but ignorable.

Unfortunately, putting some cats back in the bag and keeping them there requires constant vigilance. For example, WAI-ARIA tried and maybe still tries to define its datatypes by reference to XSD Datatypes. This is a bad idea if you mean to allow "true" and "false" and don't realize you accidentally allowed "   true ", "1" and "0".

> I remain convinced, though, that the single biggest mistake was DOM.

I disagree. The DOM is what HTML and XML have in common in Web browser implementations. Client-side Web apps that don't implement their own rendering engine on top of <canvas> use the DOM even when it has been hidden under a library like jQuery. The DOM has domain modeling flaws, API design flaws and flawed design goals, but still it hasn't managed to sink the HTML ship on the Web. Thus, to explain why XML hasn't been a success on the Web, I think you need to accuse something that HTML and XML don't have in common.

Henri Sivonen

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