W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org > February 1997

Re: Winning battles but losing the war

From: Todd Freter <Todd.Freter@Eng.Sun.COM>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 08:17:46 -0800 (PST)
To: Jon Bosak <bosak@atlantic-83.Eng.Sun.COM>
cc: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
Message-ID: <Roam.SIMC.2.0.Beta.855850666.32671.toddf@jurassic>
Jon Bosak:

> (This thread seems to have appeared out of nowhere.  Did someone's
> private correspondence get forwarded to the list?)
> [Len Bullard:]
> | The W3C consortium is a collection of conflicting 
> | interests.   Go where they need this:  not where 
> | they fear it.  This is when alliance with ISO 
> | and WG8 plays to an advantage.  Don't compare 
> | this to HTML.  Don't compare this to Acrobat.
> Yes.  I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of this point.
> HTML is almost perfectly suited to the problem space it was originally
> designed to address, and for that reason it will probably be around
> for decades to come.  It is a big mistake to position XML as
> competition to HTML.  XML is not going to take over HTML's problem
> space, and suggesting that it might just generates needless hostility.
> Jon

Really? No comparison of XML and HTML? It makes sense to avoid denigrating
HTML, but the question of how XML and HTML compare is going to ask itself, and
loudly. People have been confused about HTML and SGML for years, and the
introduction of XML into their vocabularies will only accentuate the need for
rational comparisons. It doesn't matter whether comparing XML and HTML is the
"wrong question." It's the question that everyone will ask.

Even when we acknowledge the fit of HTML's design to its problem space, some
folks will bristle when we suggest that HTML's problem space isn't infinite.
(Doesn't Netscape's indifference to XML suggest a belief in the sufficiency of
HTML?) Even if HTML users agree that XML solves certain problems more
efficiently than HTML-plus-programs can, they will have to spend real money to
take advantage of XML technology. People will need comparisons to make
sensible business investments. And investments require that businesses assess
*competitive* advantages of their investment options: XML or HTML, and for
which applications?

We certainly shouldn't generate needless hostility. And the XML initiative can
certainly proceed without being hostile. But some hostility will greet
whatever this initiative produces, and with a proper XML story, which includes
SGML-XML-HTML comparisions, that hostility can be defused and can work to
XML's advantage.

IMO ...

Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Received on Thursday, 13 February 1997 11:18:43 UTC

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