Opportunities for XML-DEV

Peter Murray-Rust peter at ursus.demon.co.uk
Sun Sep 13 11:16:00 BST 1998

At 00:18 13/09/98 -0400, Frank Boumphrey wrote:
>I think that the whole of this thread has been overly pesamistic.

Probably :-). I certainly think we should drop the thread title. The
intention was to catalyse XML-DEV members to think of ways that we could
and can show XML in action. 

What we have discovered is that there are very few XML documents currently
being delivered over the WWW. For many of us who see XML as a communication
medium *and philosophy* this is a pity. I think it makes it harder to
develop tools to work with specs like XLink, XPointer, Namespaces because
we don't have example documents to work with. And this is cyclic, because
those creating documents don't have tools to create documents with and
don't have people who can read them. So, at the moment we can only talk
about those applications.

I'd like to think we can develop early demonstrations of some of the
exciting concepts of XML. [I think XML - as a family - is much more than
simply Moore's law - 'faster, more searchable web']. 

>The beauty of XML is in it's simplicity, it is the 'Mona Lisa' of the web.
>As long as the underlying spec. is not fiddled with too much, it is bound to
>Admittedly some of the spin off's of XML have been kludgy and model's of
>murky ambiguity, but they will suffer the demise they deserve. The amazing
>thing is that some of the standards have real potential. As other writers
>have pointed out, when new standards come out there are bound to be several
>false trails before the true path is discovered.
>The place of XML for the storage of documents and data is surely assured,
>but ap's based on these fundamentals are not 'sexy'. Sexy functions almost
>by definition are functions that make the press say "wow'.
>I believe we have such an 'ap' right now.

>Having just finished 'hacking' the IE5 support for XML and the DOM, I am
>amazed. Combined they can be used to retrieve any XML document and can
>display it in almost any form we want on a (IE5 compatible, ah, there's the
>rub!) browser.

'almost any form' is rather optimistic unless you are restricting yourself
to human-readable material. If you want to do Math you need math-aware
software (and, of course, chemistry).

>I have not yet hacked the mozilla version of XML, but from what I hear it
>will also give internet functionality to XML.
>When this happens we can really expect XML to take off.

I was pleased to find that the documents from scripting.com and cnet.com
displayed automatically in JUMBO2 without loss of useful information. These
have virtually no 'text' - they are all structure. So I am also optimistic
that we can start sending structure over the wire - let's try some
>Several writers have expressed dissapointment that there are not more XML
>'ap's' out there one year (actually only 7 months!!) after the release of
>the recommendation. I think this shows how warped our perspective has
>become, 7 month's is a very short time, and it took at least a year after
>the release of Mosaic for the web to gain real momentum.

No - it was much faster with early adopters. By end-1993 there were several
new sites daily (I have an old 'What's new at NCSA' and the doubling time
was about 10 weeks. 

The early XML timelines seem to have slipped [could WG members comment?]. I
think it was expected that by now we would have full recommendations for
XLink [it was apparently XLink that *really* excited people back in Spring
1997]. Is there a revised timescale?

>To write a good app.takes time, and I am actually suprised at how fast tings
>are moving. There are several good programs out there, admittedly of the
>'experimental' kind.

Perhaps we need some collation of 'The Best of XML' to be able to show to
people what it is capable of.

>All I can say is "Don't get depressed, keep the faith!!". We may squabble on
>this list, but we (or rather XML) are bound to prevail because our cause is

We don't squabble! And we continue to remain focussed on development. This
thread has perhaps just been a small amount of refocussing. I shall
continue to try to attract the enthusiasts - please point them at XML-DEV
if you find them.


Peter Murray-Rust, Director Virtual School of Molecular Sciences, domestic
net connection
VSMS http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/vsms, Virtual Hyperglossary

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