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Markup Language Takes HTML to Task
Source: PC Week News for April 14
Subject: Markup Language Takes HTML to Task
A new web page markup language that strips down SGML and picks up
where HTML falls short is gaining momentum among software
developers--and it may even bring Microsoft Corp. and Netscape
Communications Corp. to the same standards table.
A working group of the World Wide Web Consortium last week posted the
first draft specification for building complex hyperlinks in XML
(eXtensible Markup Language). The new linking technology would enable
a single XML hyperlink to point to multiple destinations.
XML is nearly finished after a year of work by W3C developers in
Cambridge, Mass. Like Hypertext Markup Language, XML is born out of
Standard Generalized Markup Language but is stripped of many of SGML's
SGML was created to render arbitrary data structures; XML retains
SGML's extensible nature but is easier to use because it is built
strictly for Web data and applications, W3C officials said at the
group's conference here last week.
In addition, XML goes beyond HTML by enabling complex, one-to-many
hyperlinking and the creation of larger, more structured documents
through the use of finer-grain "tags" or identifiers. HTML tags are
more generic and easier to use, but less capable of segmenting large
XML enables users to create custom tags--something HTML does not
allow-- and separates content from presentation formats, enabling XML
Web pages to be repackaged for use on non-PC devices such as smart
phones or personal digital assistants.
The potential of XML has caught the attention of Barbara Heninger, a
technical publications manager in the IS group at Cadence Design
Systems Inc., in San Jose, Calif.
"We have 220 manuals and need to provide our users with the ability to
search and find information in them that they need quickly," said
Heninger. "XML enables me to add intelligence to my documents that I
cannot get with HTML."
The language also is gaining momentum among ISVs. Microsoft officials
are promising full support for XML beginning with the third preview
release of Internet Explorer 4.0, due by early summer. Microsoft's
interest in XML is its ability to support Channel Definition Format, a
standard proposed by the Redmond, Wash., company for pushing content
to its Active Desktop.
Netscape is looking to support XML but, unlike Microsoft, has not
fully committed to it. Officials at the Mountain View, Calif., company
said XML is a technology that is being closely watched and could be
very useful for solving specific needs.
Adobe Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., Novell Inc. and Hewlett-
Packard Co. also have endorsed XML, but they have not specified