In Search of XML Interoperability: XLink + XML Schema = Interoperability?

Peter Murray-Rust peter at
Wed Feb 2 13:55:13 GMT 2000

At 09:31 AM 2/1/00 -0500, Roger L. Costello wrote:
>Hi Folks,
>I have a few thoughts about XML Interoperability that I would like to
>kick around with ya'll.
>First, a definition of XML Interoperability:
>   XML Interoperability: the ability of an application to make effective
>                         use of an XML document that it receives.  
>There are two ends of the XML Interoperability spectrum:
>[1] At one end of the spectrum an application is coded for a specific
>schema and this is able to make effective use of only XML documents that
>conform to that schema.
>[2] At the other end of the spectrum the application is able to make
>effective use of any XML document that it receives, regardless of the
>schema that the XML document conforms to.

I think this describes excellently the problem that I have been wrestling
with for at least 2 years and probably more. My archetypal situation (which
occurs frequently in technical documents) is that Alice wishes to include a
chunk of CML (Chemical Markup Language) in a document to send to Bob who
doesn't even know Alice exists. She wants him to be able to read this (we
might assume he is a chemist). The CML is a small part of the document,
examples being:
	- a patent
	- a New Drug Application
	- a scientific paper

At present the chemical community works roughly on a non-XML model [1],
using the de facto MIME chemical/* approach  developed by Henry Rzepa and
me. There is a working agreement in the community that to process this we
download a free chemical viewer and install it and there are probably >
10**4 sites that can do this. But many others are not primarily chemical.
They get:

	MIME: text/xml
	<cml:molecule xmlns:cml;"">...
where do they go from there?

>I contend that [2] is the desired goal, but [1] is where we are at
>currently.  So, how do we get to [2]?  That's what I wish to explore.

Fully agreed.


>Okay, this message is long enough.  Any comments?  /Roger

I think this is vitally important. I suspect that solutions will be de
facto at first, so that airing them on XML-DEV is an effective way forward.
[If there are other initiatives, we'll hear about them in that way.] I
believe there is a critical mass of people who understand the problem and
perhaps we can formalise it to an extent where the subproblems can be


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