Search This Blog

Friday, February 15, 2008

XML at 10

Ten years ago today XML was born. That's when it was first published as
a Recommendation. XML goes back a little further than that, it
gestated, to stick to the metaphor, for almost two years at the W3C:
Dan Connolly announced the creation of the SGML Working Group mailing
list on 28-August-1996. It predates even that, of course, in the vision
of Yuri Rubinsky, Jon Bosak, and many others who imagined bringing the
full richness of generalized markup vocabularies to the then nascent
World Wide Web. My personal, professional career goes back to the fall
of 1993, so I came onto the scene only late in the development of 'SGML
on the Web' as an idea. It's earliest history is lost in the blur of
fear, excitement, and delight that I felt as I was thrust by circumstance
into the SGML community. I joined O'Reilly on the very first day of an
unprecedented two-week period during which the production department,
the folks who actually turn finished manuscripts into books, was closed.
The department was undergoing a two-week training period during which
they would learn SGML and, henceforth, all books would be done in SGML.
The day was a Monday in November, 1993; I know this for sure because I
still have the T-Shirt... Despite an inauspicious start, I have
essentially made my career out of it. I learned SGML at O'Reilly and
began working on DocBook, I worked in SGML professional services at
Arbortext, and I joined Sun to work in the XML Technology Center. XML
has been good to me. Things have not turned out as planned. The economic
forces that took over when the web became 'the next big thing' are
more interested in pixel-perfect rendering, animation, entertainment,
and advertising than in richly structured technical content. HTML 5
may be the last nail in the 'SGML on the Web' coffin, but few would
deny that XML has been a huge success. [Note: The DocBook Version 5.0
release is a complete rewrite of DocBook in RELAX NG. The intent of
this rewrite is to produce a schema that is true to the spirit of
DocBook while simultaneously removing inconsistencies that have arisen
as a natural consequence of DocBook's long, slow evolution. The
OASIS Technical Committee has taken this opportunity to simplify a
number of content models and tighten constraints where RELAX NG makes
that possible.]

No comments: