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XML Killing The Web Article


Namespace: SoftwareEng
There is an article by John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine subtitled:

"The elegant simplicity of plain HTML is being shoved aside in favor of the increasingly complex XML scene. Already the XML scene is deteriorating into a mess.".

I happen to disagree with his conclusions, basically that it is making the web too complex, so no casual user will be able to understand it and program for it as it is the case with simple HTML. That although there are standards,
"The biggest problem, and everyone is fretting about it and doing nothing, is the vocabulary problem. An XML element can be defined any way a programmer wants to define it. The list of definitions is called the vocabulary. There are no universal vocabularies, so each XML promoter just does things its own way. "Our way is the best!" The next company over, of course, is doing XML differently. For a large company that subscribed to the methodology of company A and spent millions of dollars to do so, it will be frustrating when, for some unknown reason, the company B approach becomes universal and a true standard. Nobody knows what to do about this."
What do you think?

There is a comment on this article and a sort of rebuttal in Dev X: XML Reduced. Don't Believe The Hype.

-- Alex Feldstein
From the referenced article:
"XPath is a FAT (file allocation table) applied to an XML document. Great, now we need this kind of thing to keep track of a page."
I don't know why Dvorak would make a statement like this. XPath is a powerful sublanguage used with XSL stylesheets that can provide math and string functions on very specific tags within the document. I recently converted an application that generates VFP class definitions based on an input XDR schema from mostly VFP to mostly XSLT. The result was an approximate 75% reduction in code. I'm not real sure what is motivating Mr. Dvorak. -- Bob Tracy
I don't see why the number of different ways of doing things in XML is bad. Dvorak seems to think you need to know every XML standard to do anything with it. All you need to know is the format you have agreed to use. So long as you have agreed this with your customers, they can write a parser to understand it and everyone is happy. If you find that your standard isn't the same as someone else's standard and you have to talk to them, you can just use XSL to automatically convert along the way. -- AndrewDucker
The moment I first learned what XML was I had a similar reaction to Dvorak's thoughts about the "vocabulary problem"... These doubts of mine were assuaged upon learning what XSLT REALLY is. This article by Dvorak seems to be written after XSLT was "redesigned" (in concept; from being a presentation mechanism (XML -> HTML) into being a transformation mechanism (XML -> XML)... this was about the time the "T" was added ) but before Dvorak recognized this capability. His description of it seems to support this:
XSLT means Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations. This amounts to a conversion mechanism that is predefined so that various media can adapt the XML Web page and view it exactly as it was created on competing browsers. So instead of some universal way to handle XML on different devices, you can define your own custom ways to handle it.

He says (of the "vocabulary problem"): "Nobody knows what to do about this." Yes they do, XSLT!
(ps: MS Biz Talk is an interesting tool, sort of an XSLT authoring tool that wants to completely control B2B interactions between internet-enabled companies; At least an overview of what Biz Talk is designed to do is a good way to understand what the underlying technologies of XML and XSLT are good for.)
- wgcs
I guess he was just getting comfortable with HTML, and didn't feel like making the investment required of understanding XML. He's a reporter, not a professional application developer. Has he tried to develop a web site that can generate thousands of HTML pages? I have, and the project only became practical once I learned XML/XSL.

- Steve Lackey
I think we're getting close to having heard quite enough from John Dvorak.-- Steven Black
Category XML
( Topic last updated: 2000.10.20 12:26:06 PM )