[microformats-discuss] XML -- what is it good for [was: Educationg Others]

David Janes -- BlogMatrix davidjanes at blogmatrix.com
Mon Oct 3 15:02:20 PDT 2005

 >>>> [Tantek]
>>>>Not everyone has figured out that "plain" XML has failed (with the
>>>>exceptions of RSS and XHTML) on the Web, and thus on its way down
>>>>and out as something that is seriously considered, expect to see more and more
>>>>desperate "last ditch" efforts to promote it like this article,
>>>>and in fact, there will always be a few individuals pushing it.
 >>>[Scott Anderson]
>>>This sort of arrogant ignorance is probably why us zealots have
>>>difficulty taking your vision seriously.
 >>[Ryan King]
>>I wouldn't call Tantek ignorant. XML has largely failed *on the web.*
> [Scott Anderson]
> Atom is XML
> WML is XML

I was going to avoid this one, because it smells of religion. However...

I have one XML book at home: "The XML Companion" by Neil Bradley 
published in 1998 -- not that long ago. Here's a few choice paragraphs

| XML is an ideal data format for storing structured and semi-structured
| text intended for dissemenation and ultimate publication, perhaps on a
| variety of media.

Fair enough. What's going to happen to HTML then from the perspective of 
a 1998 XML-fan?

| HTML has some unique features that XML does not aim to replicate. It
| is particularly suited to form based interactions. In addition, the
| built-in HTML rendering capability of popular browsers is greater than
| that of the most popular style sheet mechanism (CSS). But when
| powerful stylesheet mechanisms are more widely available, there will
| be nothing to prevent a future version of HTML from becoming an
| application of XML...

That is HTML was going to become a niche application of XML but XML is 
where the action was going to be -- XML + stylesheets = the new web. The 
rest of the book continues with this type of ... stuff

| <chapter>
| <title>An example of an XML fragment</title>
| <note>
| <para>bla bla bla</para>
| <para>The second paragraph</para>
| </note>
| </chapter>

The web is going to be arbitrary formatted XML documents, supposedly 
chock full of semantic goodness [because computers know what <para> is, 
as opposed to <p>? -- dpj] and whipped into presentation format by 

This was the future of the web in 1998; find almost any other XML-phile 
from the same period and you'll find more of the same. Where did we end 
up? HTML has been restated as an XML application -- by the W3C, but not 
because stylesheets made this possible. There's a couple of high profile 
well-defined (or "well-defined") XML applications out there, RSS being 
the most notable. There's a bunch of niche XML applications that you 
never see, written one-off for particular applications that want to 
enjoy a text based file format.

But a web full of XML documents of arbitrary application; "plain XML"? 
That future never happened.

Regards, etc...
David Janes

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