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Plain XML


W3C XML home page: W3C XML



A collection of critical thoughts on "plain" or "generic" XML, why it can be considered harmful etc.


Back when I saw Douglas Crockford speak on JSON at the Silicon Valley Code Camp on 2006-10-07, I realized that with HTML+microformats for document content (user authored data), and JSON for API data (machine generated data), where did that leave XML? Nowhere it seems. I asked Douglas Crockford after his session, and have been mentioning it informally to a few people since, partially to get critical feedback on my reasoning, and partially to pass on a general questioning of the XML religion. It seems that this meme has been propagating quite well. Tantek 16:46, 31 Jan 2007 (PST)

  • XML on the Web is Dead by Douglas Crockford
  • XML and the Next Web (and the Previous...) by Simon St. Laurent:

    XML was originally “SGML on the Web”, planned as a drastic change. Instead of tag soup HTML and just-implemented CSS, XML would provide a solid base format for information, XLink would offer much improved hypertext capabilities, and XSL would render all that information into something much prettier and more controllable.

    XML pretty completely missed its original target market. SGML culture and web developer culture seemed like a poor fit on many levels, and I can’t say I even remember a concerted effort to explain what XML might mean to web developers, or to ask them whether this new vision of the Web had much relationship to what they were doing or what they had planned. SGML/XML culture and web culture never really meshed.

    Instead, XML took over much of SGML’s role in the publishing world, offered itself as a common format for data interchange, and became the foundation for a whole set of projects mistakenly called ‘web services’. That work on web services has proven to be about as successful on the Web as the original “SGML for the Web” vision.

    Once again, no one paused to asked the web folk what they might actually want, and programmers’ visions yielded a replacement for CORBA and mainframe messaging rather than lightweight tools that web developers might find useful. No matter, though - those web developers eventually figured out that HTTP could carry bits of XML well enough to solve many of their problems, without requiring them to dive deeply into either XML or protocol design.

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