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

len bullard cbullard at
Sat Jan 30 18:22:46 GMT 1999

David Megginson wrote:
> <aside>
>  By the way, on a separate note, I find it disturbing that people like
>  Paul Prescod, Eliot Kimber, and I have morphed from the young Turks in
>  the SGML world a few months ago to the old grannies in the XML world
>  now.  It feels like the Star Trek episode where everyone aged rapidly.
>  I was in Kindergarten when the Beatles broke up, dammit.
> </aside>

ROTFL.  I was in high school when they broke up, but who cared.  They 
were passe by then and not yet *legendary*.

It is a perrenial in politics, David, and the only thing 
Internet Time truly makes faster:  as the twig is bent, so grows 
the tree.  This one, I hope (those of us who are grannies and 
still beating this porch with our canes), will remember.  Neophytes, 
regardless of the committee they serve on, or the contract they 
work on, have to learn the hard way.  The net doesn't make everyone 
or every company equal.  Precisely the opposite, actually, but the 
fellow crying out for smarter customers may get his wish and that 
may really turn the W3C on its head.  May we find having as good 
as wanting.  Remember the view of Beijing during the cultural 
revolution:  all of those fires where every peasant made steel 
in back yard kilns where their gardens used to be

... while their children starved.

Simply the fact that so many developers can find so many ways 
to use and implement SGML/XML systems is the testament to its 
success.  That is not hype.  OTOH, hyping particular implementations 
and *application standards* is the same business as it was for 
SGML when the military and aerospaces standards groups were duking 
it out a few years ago (eg, 28001 vs 87269):  the flying phalanx.

Twelve years ago, we were spitting SGML out of relational dbs to the 
Mentor Context system which took the SGML, parameterized it, 
and spit out bitmaps for a viewer embedded in a MicroVAX.  
Two years after that, we were sucking 
the SGML raw into C structs and sending those to the screen 
as navigable hypertext in a PC.  By the mid-90s, TechnoTeacher and 
others were showing us how to use SGML in OODBMS designs. 
And so it goes. Last week, I was using memo fields to store 
fragments of HTML in metadata-configured relational tables to 
spit out HTML files for a viewer embedded in an Access form while other 
parts parameterize a treeview.  

We go round the loop back to the beginning because 
even if it is old, it became new when the objects in the 
framework became components.  The next advantage to using 
markup is that the small desktop dbs can pass information 
to the terabyte dbs without dropping a bit.  Sometimes 
scaling isn't a matter of building a single application 
that scales well, but fitting the right applications in 
to the right scales.  That is why I side with *file format* 
argument, but can see why someone would want OOPs.  It 
really depends on what part of the system uses markup 
how you apply it. (dummy slap to forehead, homer.)

<aside>It is more interesting to me to note that the DTD was 
doing then what I do now with the logic/script and queries.  We used 
to say a DTD was a *frozen* query and it isn't that far off the 

Again, the beauty of markup is that it works for all of these, 
and all of these approaches can be mixed and matched.  XML is 
For What You Need It For.  It can't "eat the web"; it can make 
some applications work better for the purposes for which they 
are designed.  Design well;  they work well.  Misapply, and 
a new contractor gets the next contract.

No size fits all.  Some sizes fit most.  Some fit tight.


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