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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Does XML Have a Future on the Web?

Earlier this month, the opening session of the XML 2007 conference was
devoted to a panel session on the topic 'Does XML have a future on the
Web?' [...] A lot depends on what we mean by 'the Web'. If we mean
Web 2.0 Ajax applications, we may get one answer. If we mean the
universe of data publicly accessible through HTTP, the answer might be
different. But neither of these, in reality, is 'the Web'. If there is
a single central idea of the Web, it's that of a single connected
information space that contains all the information we might want to
link to -- that means, in practice, all the information we care about
(or might come to care about in future): not just publicly available
resources, but also resources behind my enterprise firewall, or on my
personal hard disk. If there is a single technical idea at the center
of the Web, it's not HTTP (important though it is) but the idea of the
Uniform Resource Identifier, a single identifier space with distributed
responsibility and authority, in which anyone can name things they care
about, and use their own names or names provided by others, without
fear of name collisions. Looked at in this way, 'the Web' becomes a
rough synonym for 'data we care about', or 'the data we process, store,
or manage using information technology'... There were something like
two hundred people actively involved in the original design of XML, and
among us I wouldn't be surprised to learn that we had a few hundred, or
a few thousand, different goals for XML... One reason to think that XML
has found broad uptake is the sheer variety of people complaining about
XML and the contradictory nature of the problems they see and would like
to fix. For some, XML is too complicated and they seek something simpler;
for others, XML is too simple, and they want something that supports
more complex structures than trees. Some would like less draconian error
handling; others would like more restrictive schema languages. Any
language that can accumulate so many different enemies, with such widely
different complaints, must be doing something right. Long life to
descriptive markup! Long life to XML! More Information

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