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Inter@ctive week covers XML

From: Tim Bray <tbray@textuality.com>
Date: Sun, 07 Jan 1990 20:17:14 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
I got this from a search service I subscribe to; but I wasn't able to
get the ZDnet search engine to find the original story, which would
probably be in zdnet.com/intweek somewhere.  Anyhow, here's the
raw text.  The original URL would be nice if anyone could find it. -Tim

XML Spec May Transform The Web 

Received: May 14, 1997 06:23am EDT    From: Inter@ctive Week

From Inter@ctive Week for May 12, 1997 by Karen Rodriguez 

A little-known markup language promises to propel the World Wide Web
from its inert form to a more intelligent and interactive service.

The Extensible Markup Language, or XML, is expected to enable Web
personalization, improved search services, the push of information to
desktops and more advanced processing of complex data on client

Now available as a first draft specification, XML was created by the
World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C (www.w3c.org), to augment the
HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, standard. HTML is a significant
delivery and presentation mechanism for the Web, but many users are
currently pushing the language's feature set.

"HTML has been tremendously successful, but a lot of people,
particularly those in the professional publishing market, find it is
limiting. Everyone [who's] doing anything ambitious on the Web is
screaming for extensions to HTML," says Tim Bray, co-author of the XML
specification and principal of Textuality (www.textuality.com), a
consulting practice based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Web publishers have been looking for smarter client and server software
with which to represent and dynamically generate data stored in
relational, object and document databases.

"HTML is good for presentation; but it does not support smart downstream
processing," Bray says in reference to client-side information

For example, as a generalized language, HTML is ill-suited for
publishing auto industry technical manuals, which include specific part
numbers and descriptions of parts assembly.

HTML also doesn't allow Web-based human-resource applications to
represent new data types, such as date of hire and date of birth.

On the other hand, XML offers application-specific tags that can help
organize and define content.

According to analysts at CAP Ventures, a consulting and research firm
that focuses on document technology, there are three problems with HTML:
There are several different versions of HTML that are incompatible; the
language is limited and does not let users create attractive Web
documents; and users are unable to extend HTML to add custom tags.

"XML attempts to fix two of those problems: It solves the version
problem, but more importantly, it solves the user extensibility
problem," says Frank Gilbane, director of the Norwell, Mass.,
consultancy. "When people try to build large document Web systems with
HTML; they can't do it. XML provides just enough capability to allow
people to create their own extensions without wreaking havoc, which
happens now [in HTML]."

Microsoft Corp. (wwwmicrosoft.com) and Netscape Communications Corp.
(www.netscape.com) both say they will support XML in their respective

Netscape says support for XML will not be available in the upcoming
Communicator browser suite, due this summer, but the language will be
implemented in the future.

XML "looks like it is becoming an important standard; clearly, it is a
great way to augment HTML with structured data," says Eckart Walther,
Netscape's product manager for Communicator.

However, because the XML spec is still in the proposal stage and not
expected to be complete until the end of the year, Walther says, it is
too early to project how the company will support the language other
than in the browser.

Microsoft is a bit more definite. The company says it will include an
XML extension in its upcoming Internet Explorer 4.0, or IE 4.0, browser
suite, due this summer.

Microsoft will use XML to define how information will be pushed to the
desktop using the Channel Definition Format, or CDF, a Microsoft
standard for delivering data to its browser.

Microsoft and Intuit Inc. (www.intuit.com), a maker of personal finance
software, are using XML to define a specific format in Microsoft Money
and Intuit's Quicken packages that let users move money between
different accounts.

With XML, the companies are able to create specific tags for the name of
the withdrawal bank, the bank's address, phone number and transaction.

"We think XML is of epic importance," says Thomas Reardon, group program
manager in the Internet client and collaboration division at Microsoft.
"We'll have support for XML in several apps, including CDF, and that's
important, because rather than create scripts and new APIs [Application
Program Interfaces] to identify a channel, we can do it with simple data
descriptions in XML."
Received on Wednesday, 14 May 1997 18:32:54 UTC

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