XML is boring (long --- sorry)

Dave Winer dave at userland.com
Sun Sep 13 17:23:00 BST 1998

>>MS Office XML file formats are helpful only insofar as they are
well-documented and parseable from an application point of view.
Without that, I can generate a nice tree from JUMBO, but 
what else can I do?  Not a lot...

This is totally true, and helps illustrate the point, an important one.
Microsoft has a lot of leeway in how they support XML. It can be done in a
banner-waving way, look how cool we are, or with a real committment to open
file formats, fostering the development of compatible apps from companies
other than Microsoft. My company has put a bet down that we'll be able to
do something interesting with Microsoft's XML files, and of course any
other XML-based apps that show up. However, right now, there are very few
apps that do stuff other than XML that understand XML. Who do we work with?
Right now it seems like only Microsoft.

One of the reasons UserLand stepped up with such a large investment in XML
is that our software already does a lot more stuff than just XML, so we add
unique value to the XML world, in the same way an XML-spreadsheet or
XML-drawprogram would. I'm pretty sure that's not well understood in the
press and on this list. We're going to work on that, build some more
examples of the value of our stuff. I've gotten a few ideas from this
discussion over the last few days.

My point is that there's got to be much more to XML than web browsing and
search engines, because the former has to compete with HTML, which is a
confusing standard, but very strong nonetheless; and the latter requires a
major investment by web developers and toolmakers, and by the search engine
companies, and no such investment is visible now. To expect that there will
be a user benefit in these areas is a real stretch, imho.

I also wonder if the W3C is up to handling issues of file formats for
productivity apps,  graphics tools and groupware, or if some other forum
for discussing file format standards is necessary.



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