Regulating the XML Marketplace

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Fri Jan 8 15:59:36 GMT 1999

[I'm hoping the XML-Dev mailer won't send this out repeatedly like it did
my last posting.  If it does, many apologies, and apologies for the last one.]

At 09:43 AM 1/8/99 -0500, Jonathan Borden wrote:
>	1) Its not that plumbing is unexiting and 2) Paul is just being 

Paul's honesty is fine; it's the dismissal of XML's potential that I find
extraordinarily disturbing from someone so close to the standard.  Calling
XML plumbing is good - provided you follow up by saying that plumbing is
useful, indeed critically important, not by saying that it does 'NOTHING' new.

>Linux and Java are in the same boat at XML in terms of the fact that their
>are different OS's and languages. Its not about the fact that something CAN
>be done, for example, I COULD go back to coding assembler, and I would be
>able to write programs, certainly SGML has been around for a while and has
>had mostly a supraset of XML's capabilities. The real issue is the ease of
>performing a task, and obtaining a momentum so that black boxes can become

Linux is a great general-purpose platform, on which you can run Java, a
great general-purpose multiplatform-capable OOP language, which you can use
to process XML documents efficiently.  If I really wanted, I could run
Windows, and use programs written with Microsoft C++ that only work with
files in proprietary formats.  At present, the latter is definitely easier
for most tasks, if frustrating in its own way.  That doesn't make the
Linux/Java/XML combination any less compelling - but we do need to make
clear the differences between Linux and Windows, Java and C++ (and other
contenders), and XML and proprietary formats instead of just throwing our
hands in the air and proclaiming it all the same thing.

>	Perhaps because XML is plumbing, it has been able to gain its own momentum.
>Who is the evangelist of the Web today? or of the Internet in general? or of
>E-mail? Certainly their are market leaders and visionaries but for truly
>important things, their importance can become self-evident.

There are no formal 'Web evangelists', though Tim Berners-Lee is about the
closest thing we've got.  I proposed creating an organized group of XML
evangelists at the beginning of last year, and got virtually no support.

Unfortunately, I don't yet think it's clear that XML's importance is
anywhere near self-evident, and its initial goal of 'SGML on the Web' seems
pretty clearly forgotten.  Programmers and database developers have
certainly jumped on it, so it does seem to be finding a home, but I
wouldn't call its importance self-evident yet.

>	If I am building a house, the importance of installing plumbing is 

It is now, but it wasn't when plumbing first came out.  My grandparents
sold a lake cottage in the 50's rather than bring it up to a new building
code by installing indoor plumbing.  Didn't seem worth the cost or the
hassle to them, and the new owners got to do it, whether they wanted to or

Plumbing is important, enabling, and prevents us from having to live in a
sewer.  Getting the components in order is an important first step; a
second step is encouraging people to use this plumbing so we can all work
on the same system, instead of thousands of separate systems.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Cookies
Sharing Bandwidth 
Building XML Applications (March)

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