W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org > October 1996

Re: Acceptance of XML

From: Len Bullard <cbullard@HiWAAY.net>
Date: Wed, 02 Oct 1996 10:59:42 -0500
Message-ID: <3252916E.72E8@HiWAAY.net>
To: Bill Smith <bill.smith@eng.sun.com>
CC: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
Bill Smith wrote:
> I've been following the discussion on the various topics and am concerned that
> in dealing with interesting details, we are ignoring the even more interesting
> "big issue" - accpetance.
> SGML is an important international standard, has garnered wide support, and is
> required for many applications. The flexibility inherent in SGML makes it ideal
> for a class of applications that cannot be supported by lesser markup languages.
> HTML is an obvious lesser language. SGML is superior and I support it.
> HTML, brain-damaged though it may be, has in short order dramatically eclipsed
> SGML in terms of number of adoptees/users. 

At the cost of an SGML hypermedia tool three years ago, that is not 

I'm not precisely disagreeing with you.  However, HTML is not the only 
contender for position in the Internet community.  Other languages,
of markup, are also being developed and deployed.  VRML is, for example, 
an object language.  While deployed as a 3D graphics language, it like 
most hypermedia languages is also an interface.  Extensions to it to 
better handle text have already been proposed.  

There will be more.  HTML is, simply, the 
one most of us use daily and are familiar with.  While making life 
better for the HTML user is a worthy goal, adopting a streamlined 
version of SGML does not depend on making a super-HTML.  That 
this may be the result, will be worthwhile.  But there are 
other markets some extant, some to become, that will also benefit 
from this work, so, what I believe we should have as our goal, is 
the best product we can create for the environment, the Internet, 
now and and becoming, not the fix for HTML.

HTML was adopted dramatically because it was free, easy, and put 
on the Internet.  The real technical advantage is HTTP; not the markup.
Where we who were already providing excellent support for SGML hypertext 
did not succeed is in recognizing the ubiquity of a simple transport 
protocol.   Had we done that, we would be further along, IMO.

Where we will gain acceptance is in ensuring that our clients have 
more smarts, not less, and that our language does not require
the protocol engines, and the framework libraries for display and 
interapplication communication.  Why?  Because all of the other Internet
depend on them.   HTML users are able to change to more powerful SGML
but the other languages will not. 

In short, the advantage is in the interoperability 
within the framework because under current designs, any notation can be
a hub.
While I have no objection to supporting HTML users, and I see these
as the largest SGML authoring base to harvest, we should not compromise 
the XML design to do this.  We should ensure that tools are easy to 
build for XML, and these tools in turn, the XML applications, will 
take on the task of harvesting the HTML community.

Len Bullard
Lockheed Martin
Received on Wednesday, 2 October 1996 11:51:37 UTC

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