XML is it happening the right way

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at simonstl.com
Wed Jul 7 15:23:45 BST 1999

At 10:35 AM 7/7/99 +1000, Trevor Croll wrote:
>What seems to be happening is that the Forms people are re-doing XSL and
>Xpointer and Xlink and adding new stuff
>The Maths are re-doing it
>ie.. every specification is a rework of other specifications instead of an
>organised addition to the existing specification.
>Specs are being defined for applications not for function. I predict the Net
>result will be a confusion and conflicts between specifications if some
>general order is not restored.
>In other words - the XML thing is diversifying into lots of little deviants
>instead of accumulating into one grand specification.

and at 06:46 PM 7/6/99 -0700, Lisa Rein wrote:
>Hey Trevor:
>Chill out.  There's nothing to worry about.
>The great thing about XML is that "groups" doing one thing or another
>won't hurt the core language in any way; what might be the case if
>everything were coming out of one centralized location.

I think that in general, Lisa may be right - there's no need for the W3C to
coordinate every spec in development, and that lots of groups can wander
off in their own direction without it damaging the project.  OASIS is
getting started providing some overall glue, but apart from duplication of
effort, I don't think we need centralized coordination of all of this.

On the other hand, XML 1.0 itself isn't that much of a foundation to build
on.  As Trevor points out, if everyone builds their own XLink and XPointer,
or if the already numerous dialects of XSL continue to expand, in
production work, we're going to have some very large problems.  Basically,
the foundation isn't complete, however much many of us would like it to be
so.  XLink/XPointer is an especially good example as the drafts are now
over 16 months old, leaving a lot of people with no option but to go in
their own way.

Whether the way they go is the 'right' way is a big open question.

> In other words - the XML thing is diversifying into lots of little deviants
> instead of accumulating into one grand specification.

If you mean that developers are cooking up their own 'deviants' to fill in
the gaps while we all wait for the core to be completed, you're probably
right.  Sadly, there isn't much to be done except waiting for the wheels of
the W3C to turn, and encouraging people to conform to the standards that
already exist.  If this is the general 'XML will fragment the world'
argument (which it doesn't seem to be), then I'm not so worried.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
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