Do SGML and XML co-exist?

David Megginson david at
Wed Nov 17 22:39:18 GMT 1999

Len Bullard <cbullard at> writes:

> David Megginson:
> >This is a good thing -- it would have been fine if XML had died and
> >full SGML had won, and it's fine the way it is, but if both SGML and
> >XML had been equally strong competitors, we would have been dealing at
> >best with the same problem people have with OpenGL/DirectX,
> Interesting, but nah.  XML won because Microsoft backed 
> it.  Plain and simple.

Nah.  I know that Len is too savvy to believe that, really -- after
all, Microsoft has backed so many losing specs over the past few years
(and then quietly backed away, leaving naive smaller partners
dangling) that the effect of their backing alone cannot have helped
XML get to where it is.

What's special about XML is that *both* Microsoft *and* the
anyone-but-Microsoft camp (Sun, IBM, Oracle, and Netscape [at the
time]) backed it.  That's extremely rare (usually you have to choose
between OpenGL or DirectX, CORBA or DCOM, Java or ActiveX, NFS or SMB,
etc. etc.) -- heartfelt kudos to Jon, Tim, and the other members of
the original XML WG for getting XML safely through that minefield.

> The differences between the features of the practice aren't that
> great.  The size is.  The money came and when the money voted, the
> money voted for a namechange and a change of venue.  Selah.  Same
> dumb stuff, just cheaper and better integrated into the windowing
> system and the network.

Yep, that's about it, but brain-dead simplicity is a good survival
characteristic in the early stages (when most specs die) because the
barrier to entry is lower -- hence the successes of HTML and XML.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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