Is XML for the peons or the gods? (was What is XML for?)

Tyler Baker tyler at
Fri Jan 29 22:02:30 GMT 1999

This last thread is very interesting because it brings up an entire debate which
if not resolved could really dilute the momentum XML has today and bring it to
the state of technologies like CORBA.

A few years ago I like many other people were suckered into thinking that CORBA
was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  It even got dumped into the JDK (bad,
bad, bad decision by JavaSoft).  All of the technology pundits were preaching
that it could be used for just about everything, pretty much the same list of
items that people are preaching XML to be used for.  In the end I scrapped use of
CORBA for use as a dumb messaging layer in an application I had (using CORBA in
the first place wasn't one of the most intelligent decisions I have made in my
programming life but I was told by all of these "experts" that is was super
hihg-performance and all of this other great stuff).  That is not to say CORBA is
a bad technology, but I was using it for all of the wrong reasons.  CORBA now for
all intensive purposes is dead in terms of momentum and most people I know of
have totally lost interest in it altogether.  The main CORBA list I am subscribed
to which used to see the volume this list receives gets one or two messages
posted to it a month (a good sign in my books that things are not going well for
a technology).

I am a little bit smarter now and see the same things happening to XML that
happened with CORBA.  I like XML for its simplicity and I wish it was a lot
simpler and had some so-called "features" removed.  The fact that XML was made to
be SGML compatible I don't think does the world any favors since most people are
planning on using XML for things which are the farthest removed from SGML.  I do
think you could do wonderful complex things on top of XML if you keep the
standard spec simple (namespaces are something that is really a contradiction to
simplicity, especially since all of the people to date that are defending
namespaces cannot explain how to use namespaces in simple English).  Then there
is the camp who thinks that adding garbage like "Namespaces to XML" and other
complicated issues directly into the XML spec is necessary because the most
complicated computer science issues cannot be solved without them.  In the end,
all of these additions make supporting XML more difficult and far less useful to
the "masses".

So it basically boils down to is XML for a few really complicated tasks that
require "gods" to implement, or is XML for a large set of general tasks that even
"peons" can implement.

No developer including myself wants to spend a ton of time learning and doing
things with a technology that is going to die because the leaders of that
technology are not sensitive to the needs of the underlings who actually use it.


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