"Martin v. Löwis" martin at v.loewis.de
Fri Jun 20 21:52:12 CEST 2003

Roman Suzi wrote:

> I wonder if my pessimism toward XML is not unique. So I am writing here 
> to find if anyone else shares my thoughts (and has courage to admit it).

I personally share this skepticism. "The power of XML" is widely 
misunderstood, and there are many good reasons to prefer proprietary 
formats in proprietary applications. There are two places were XML might 
be useful: document editing, and interoperability.

XML has a long tradition in document editing, e.g. DocBook, XHTML, etc,
essentially building on the tradition of SGML. SGML is slightly easier
to type and slightly harder to process; they both offer support for a
wide variety of output formats from a single rich input source, making
the effort of collecting the rich input worthwhile. An with standard
document types (such as DocBook and XHTML), you can reuse the renderers,
and you might even see specialized editors.

For interoperability, XML offers an easy way to specify the exchange
format, so that all tools can build on top of that specification. It
also provides an easy way to allow proprietary extensions.

In either case, it is *not* the simplicity in processing or the 
human-readability that makes XML a useful thing (since XML provides 
neither in a satisfying manner). Instead, what XML does offer is a 
standard way to define stable-yet-evolving data formats.


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