XML is boring (long --- sorry)

Paul Prescod papresco at technologist.com
Fri Sep 11 20:07:23 BST 1998

I find all of this worrying about XML's place in the universe to be
misdirected. XML is ASCII. You can ignore ASCII for a little while, but
eventually you adopt it because it is so fundamentally simple, right and
useful that it doesn't make any sense to continue with EBCDIC (or whatever

Furthermore, XML has no competitors. PDF cannot do what XML can do. RTF
cannot do it. PostScript cannot do it. HTML cannot do it. People are hyped
about XML because they have been waiting for it without knowing that they
were doing so.

The first wave of XML users will be programmers. So? What's wrong with
that. The second wave will be all of the corporations that should have
adopted SGML before, but didn't. Nothing wrong with that either. Users
will find XML invading their day-to-day computing just as they do Unicode
and ASCII before it. That strikes me as fine.

Now I know that Peter is in a little bit of a hurry. He wants his chemist
peers to adopt XML as quickly as possible. Maybe hype would help them to
do that. Maybe not. But with or without hype, they will eventually adopt
XML (or some other SGML variant, if one ever arises) because there is no
reasonable alternative. You can't encode molecules in PDF, HTML or even
VRML. You could reinvent something LIKE XML, but why would you bother?

 Paul Prescod  - http://itrc.uwaterloo.ca/~papresco

The past is inaccurate. Whoever lives long enough knows how much what he
had seen with his own eyes becomes overgrown with rumor, legend a
magnifying or belittling hearsay. "It was not like that at all!" -- 
he would like to exclaim, but will not, for they would have seen only 
his moving lips without hearing his voice. - Czeslaw Milosz (translated)

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