What XML-dev can do (was Re: an unfilled need)

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at simonstl.com
Tue Sep 7 15:15:07 BST 1999

At 03:30 PM 9/6/99 -0500, Len Bullard wrote:
>Now, the rest of you should decide what you want to use namespaces 
>for and just do it.  You don't need permission and if you wait for it, 
>you only fall behind in development.

and Matthew Gertner later wrote:

>So the question is, would we rather see these things come about through
>some open process or by dictate from some corporate titan focused on its
>own self-interest? I don't want to sound like a starry-eyed idealist,
>but as XML folks we all understand the value of freely available
>information. Can't we leverage the network infrastructure provided by
>the Internet to reform the standards process into something more
>appropriate for this day and age? 

We already have an excellent forum for discussing all of these issues, for
making proposals and presenting implementations.  XML-dev has shown itself
capable in the past of building standards through open process (SAX, DDML)
and even in getting those standards widely adopted (SAX).  There are no
membership fees, there is no official process, there are no barriers.

In the past, a lot of projects on XML-dev have faced an uphill fight until
it became very clear that the W3C wasn't going to claim that space as its
own turf and thereby obsolete our work.  (In DDML's case, the proposal we
wrote was submitted to the W3C as a Note and became one of several inputs
to their schema project.)

It doesn't seem sensible, however, to be afraid of the W3C.  There are a
lot of projects they don't seem interested in working on, and there are
even more cases where people need standards (like the namespaces issues Len
noted above) that go beyond what the W3C is currently providing.

Matt's list included two possibilities:
>1) A better schema language than DTDs
>2) Some means of finding out what semantics are associated with a

I'd add:
3) A way to associate prefixes with namespace URIs in DTDs (I could do that!)
4) Some means of discovering what kind of processing is needed for a document
5) A way to profile or subset XML itself (ties into 4 somewhat)
6) A set of tools for querying XML documents (discussed at W3C, but nothing
7) A convention for mapping data types into DTDs (XML Authority has one)
8) Whatever else comes to mind - I'm only on my first cup of coffee.

Some of these projects have been talked about at the W3C, some (Matt's #1)
are enjoying the full thrills of W3C WGs.  Others, though they might be
useful, even easy, appear to have fallen off the radar.

This doesn't even begin to get into the application development
possibilities for XML, on which the members of this list are constantly
working.  The surface has barely been scratched, though.

It's a lot of work, and I know it isn't always fun.  Most of us do have
other lives and all of that, and a significant portion of us have other
lives already spent at the W3C.  It does seem, however, like a lot of this
could be rewarding.  Personally, professionally, even politically.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer (2nd Ed - September)
Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
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