XML is boring (was Re: coming clean with the SGML crowd)

John Cowan cowan at locke.ccil.org
Fri Sep 11 17:19:42 BST 1998

Samuel R. Blackburn wrote:

> What excited me about XML was it's ability to pass data in
> a form that anyone could parse. Universal data transfer. Sounded
> like a good idea to me.  The syntax of XML is wonderful.

I agree.

> However,
> IMHO XML is saddled with design goal #3 "XML shall be compatible
> with SGML." I thought, "Oh great, yet another way to show pretty
> text." I don't need another way of showing pretty text. HTML has
> solved that problem well enough.

That is based on a mistaken view of SGML --- a widely believed
mistake, to be sure.

> What I need is a way to pass data around so anyone can use
> any part of it they wish. Looking at XML from a data centric
> perspective, there are things in it that are worthless, DTD's
> for example.

Surely you don't suppose that you can have maintainable, reusable
data without machine-interpretable schemas?  DTDs aren't the best
possible schema language for a lot of reasons, but right now
they are all we have.
> When asked why I use XML in my programs, I tell folks
> "what HTML is to text, XML is to data." I've found XML to
> be a wonderful solution to exporting data in an easily
> consumable format. I could care less if a browser knows
> how to consume XML.

I agree with that too.

John Cowan	http://www.ccil.org/~cowan		cowan at ccil.org
	You tollerday donsk?  N.  You tolkatiff scowegian?  Nn.
	You spigotty anglease?  Nnn.  You phonio saxo?  Nnnn.
		Clear all so!  'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)

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