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Tim Bray on XML at 15, and XML mail archives

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2013 12:59:14 +0000
Message-ID: <CAFfrAFokKFswaBE1NnowZLei+nP+kLjGkh7Aixx_089jqF3vEw@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-webhistory@w3.org
Cc: Tim Bray <tbray@textuality.com>, Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, Marc Weber <marc@webhistory.org>
Nice post from Tim Bray touching on XML's origins.
http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2013/02/10/XML-at-15 (copied
below for the archives).

This reminds me, I finally met Marc Weber last week, and one of many
things we talked about was that a lot of the details of Web history is
stuck behind W3C's Member-only site restrictions. I remembered
https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-xml-sig/ as a hub of early
XML activity, but the first post there
https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-xml-sig/1998Sep/0000.html
from Jon Bosak
says "Two years ago we set out to bring SGML to the World Wide Web.
Many people thought this would be impossible; others, myself included,
thought it was a long shot at best.  But we did it.  We won.  And now
it's time to move on.", which in turn leads to
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-sgml-wg/1996Aug/ and happily,
all those discussions are public. The first intro message there from
Jon Bosak is in
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-sgml-wg/1996Aug/0002.html on
28 Aug 1996 and the archives are very busy from Sep '96 to June '97.
Plenty in there for historians of Web technology I'm sure...

Dan

Plain text of Tim's post copied below; see original for links...

"""Whether you like XML or not, we’re stuck with it for a long time.
These days, the only new XML-based projects being started up are
document-centric and publishing-oriented. Thank goodness, because
that’s a much better fit than all the WS-* and Java EE config puke and
so on that has given those three letters a bad name among so many
programmers. XML for your document database is actually pretty hard to
improve on.

February 10, 1998 · I was at some meeting or another at Microsoft, and
we were trying to get the last few changes in and publish the final
approved spec. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to connect to Microsoft’s
Internet. So Dan Connolly at the W3C would look at it, find some
little glitch in the formatting or document-status section, we’d talk
on the phone, I’d edit ~/XML/xml.xml, HTMLify it with a bunch of Perl
I’d cooked up for the job, drop it onto a floppy disk, and give it to
one of the Microsoft guys who’d email it to Dan. We went around this
track quite a few times, as I recall. ¶

What’s Really Strange · When XML was invented, it was the world’s only
useful cross-platform cross-language cross-character-set
cross-database data format. Where by “useful” I mean, “came with a
pretty good suite of free open-source tools to do the basic things you
needed.” ¶

That’s why it ended up being used for all sorts of wildly-inappropriate things.

Is That All There Is? · So these days, if you want to interchange
tuples or tables of tuples or numbers and strings, you have JSON. If
you want to do nontrivial publishing automation, use XML. If you want
to interchange smart bitmaps of page images, there’s PDF. I personally
think we’re probably done with inventing low-level textual interchange
formats. ¶

What I’m Happiest About · XML really helped push Unicode down the
world’s throat. ¶

What I Regret Most · That I gave up working on Lark, the first ever
production-ready XML parser, and still one of the fastest. It was
maybe the best piece of software I ever wrote; but I couldn’t see the
point when there were two other pretty good Java-language XML parsers
out there in the wild. Oh well. ¶

Further Reading · XML People, written on XML’s tenth birthday. Also, I
suppose, the 135 other pieces here at this blog tagged “XML”. ¶"""
Received on Monday, 11 February 2013 12:59:41 GMT

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