XML belongs to itself. (Re: an unfilled need)

Paul Tchistopolskii paul at qub.com
Tue Sep 7 09:06:13 BST 1999

> >On Mon, 6 Sep 1999, Matthew Gertner wrote:
> >
> >> No one objected to the W3C controlling XML at the onset because it  was
> >> far from a foregone conclusion that XML was win over a number of
> >> plausible (but in retrospect clearly inferior) approaches. Now XML is
> >> mainstream and this no longer flies.
> >  > Lack of complete buyin (not to mention open hostility)  from XML
> >  >developers is certainly not in the W3C's interest, and only opens the
> > > way for Microsoft and other major players to step in with their own
> > > proprietary (and inevitably less well thought out) approaches.
> I disagree on both counts.  Firstly, W3C does not control XML to the
> extent that they can control other syntaxes, because XML is SGML.

I disagree that XML is SGML ( I'l try to explain that XML is
actualy UNIX ;-) but I agree that it is not  *that* important
who is 'controling'  XML, because from my point of view
XML is 'controling itself' more than any  vendor or group
could do.

> Secondly, I think that if Microsoft made a successor to XML, it is quite
> possible it could be better than XML is, learning from experience. If
> Microsoft cares to give me a million dollars, I am prepared to develop
> such a thing!

It  may  be  just  a  bit  better ( more likely it would be
'a bit different').  The unbeatable thing about XML is the
concept. You can not  invent the better concept .
( OK, maybe you can - I don't know... )

 XML is good because it is not a big invention - it's kind of
reproducing well-known (old) UNIX concepts.

If  not going  into much detail, we could say that the (whole)
concept of  UNIX  was:

1. Everything is a text, because it's easier to read.
2. Do not build monsters but use pipes and small
nice bulding blocks instead.

The only difference is that XML says:

1. Yes, everything is a text, but we now also have
not only English  ( unicode  ) and also text should
be a bit better structured than 'a bunch of lines'
( 'bunch of lines' - is just a special case of a more
general - but still trivial - tree structure ).

It is kind of simplification, because UNIX has changed,
there were more concepts in UNIX, 'everything' means
'mostly everything you need in the real life'  e t.c. -
I'm  writing those 2 axioms because I think that XML
has a  success *only*  because it  follows  those plain
concepts of building  scalable and open systems
( just making small change to one of the axioms ).

There was no big choice when designing
something  to match the changed axiom.

Sure, we'l get  ps -ax and ps -ef. I don't think it  is
( would be ) a significant problem or significat
improvemet,  like most of  the problems discussed
in maling lists.

XML is good not because it is well-designed.

Note 1. Maybe it is - it's hard to understand yet, some parts
are much better than others ( many people are using
XT in the real life, but some standarts are not used
at all ).

Note 2. Maybe it is - but the design process is unspecified.
I can only guess what happens in the XSL FO WG, how
do people make analyzis, do they talk to end-users
e t.c.

XML is a good old concept  that  works for years (UNIX).
Nobody owns the concept. The concept  owns itself.

Remember when MS tried to introduce UNIX-killer?
( Now known as 'better UNIX than UNIX" ).
Actualy, MS is now sponsoring perl ( which
is UNIX 'all in one' ) for Windows. Good concept is
hard to 'own' or 'kill' , more likely the concept
will 'own'  you ;-)


PS. My apologies for a bit  'abstract' posting -
I now promise to stop flooding this malining list for
a while, but I realy think that XML is very special
case.  With XML it is not  *very* important who
'owns'  the trademark or who is writing standards.

I'm not saying that W3C develops bad standards -
W3C does a great job.  Any process could be
improved,  of course,  but in general - I like the
way it goes and I think that it would be hard to
find more brilliant persons to make a descisions.

Just  -  please - give a small vendors some way to
vote ( just to provide a reality check ) - and it would be
absolutely perfect ;-).

 paul at pault.com   www.renderx.com   www.pault.com
 XMLTube * Perl/JavaConnector * PerlApplicationServer

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