CORBA's not boring yet. / XML in an OS?

Robb Shecter shecter at
Mon Feb 8 10:51:23 GMT 1999

James Tauber wrote:

> >Anyhow, this naturally makes me wonder - could XML and related ideas
> >like XSL have a place in an operating system?  Where would they fit in?
> >KDE and Gnome could be great playgrounds for trying something like this
> >out.
> For a while now, I've been thinking what an OS (or more likely shell) would
> look like if it took Unix's "everything as a file" to "everything as an XML
> element".

Now this is interesting.

> A system would be a single XML "uberdocument"... Applications ... would operate on other
> nodes in the element tree.
> There would be an application, for example, that got mail via POP or IMAP,
> represented it in XML and then attached it a particular point in the
> uberdocument. XSL could be used to sort the mail. XSL would also be used to
> view the mail.

Great ideas.  I can see that this would just follow the unix philosophy, and could actually be
useful:  Just like how today, anyone can use the unix command line tools to pipe together
small apps to form "new" app/filters, in this XML/OS, someone could use XML/XSL parsers/apps
to connect and filter XML to create new apps and filters.

The myriad of programs that operate and manipulate XML could manipulate any OS object, program
or data.  For example, the IBM Alphaworks "Tree Diff" (a Java program that generates "diff"
info between two XML documents) can be applied to anything stored in the OS, in the same way
that the conventional diff can operate on any text file.

> It's XML for the sake of it, but I think it would be fun to try out.

Absolutely, but I'd also bet that some convincing arguments could be made for real advantages
of this.

- Robb

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