XML media types revisited

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at simonstl.com
Thu Jan 14 18:07:50 GMT 1999

I'm pondering the fairly thorny issue of MIME types and XML, and I'm really
wondering if the approach of RFC 2376 is a good idea.  Apart from dealing
with an enormous number of possible complications regarding character sets,
RFC 2376 (available at ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc2376.txt) defines the
text/xml and application/xml media types.

I'm concerned that treating XML as a subtype isn't really appropriate to
the nature of XML.  XML isn't a subtype of text or application - it's
really a type on which other applications can be built.  Perhaps if media
types had three levels - type/subtype/furthersubtype - text/xml and
application/xml might make more sense to me.

Which makes more sense?

application/xml + sorting out DOCTYPE


xml/cml, xml/mathml, xml/xmi

I don't expect the IETF to change this anytime soon, but it does seem like
something that could stand improvement.  XML isn't really a text format -
Tim Bray used to say, it's a replacement for ASCII.  I'm inclined to agree
with him here, and think that maybe XML deserves to be placed on the same
footing as ASCII, not underneath it.

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

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