Do SGML and XML co-exist?

Len Bullard cbullard at
Thu Nov 18 02:20:08 GMT 1999

David Megginson wrote:
> 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.

That was the danger expressed to Murray in Vancouver, but it looks 
like the survivors figured it out.  Yes, MS or any company including 
the Feds can leave one hanging.  But this is so:  if Jean Paoli 
had NOT come to Vancouver, and certain parties not persuaded the 
IE product managers that SGML was the key to getting six month 
lead on the then dominant browser, that this innovation would 
work where every other form of arm twisting would fail, we 
would be debating this on comp-text-sgml.

> 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.  

No they didn't.  Andreesen went on record in Paris with extremely 
strong and extremely wrong statements about XML.  I sat with 
the Netscape product manager and had a long discussion in 
Monterey.  Netscape was late to the party.  Sun found something for Java 
to do and Oracle joined the party once the W3C pushed hard.  No, 
in the beginning, David, it was just us chickens and Little Blue. 
MS was the smartest bunch in the pack.  Do they do unscrupulous 
things?  I don't know, but when it comes to recognizing an 
opportunity and working it, no one is better.  Give 'em credit 
for knowing how to work the room.

>  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.

Yep.  That part is true. Jon and Tim did a good job of getting XML 
framed and named.  It is what it is and that is the way it goes. 

> > 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.

Yep.  All that free stuff in IE5 doesn't hurt either.  Getting my 
manager to recognize that using the DOM class was a better bet 
on import was a bit of work, but once he worked with it, things 
picked up.

Hard for some to believe here, but getting hardcore FoxPro and 
Oracle hackers to use XML is still a struggle.

Now, that thing about schemas....  


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