[OT] XML design intent ... further musings

Stephen Waterbury golux at comcast.net
Sat Jan 22 21:37:41 EST 2005

Peter Hansen wrote:
> If merely thinking about the purpose of XML doesn't make it
> clear where Steve got that idea ...

I meant no disparagement of Steve, and it is quite clear
where he got that (correct!) idea ...

It's also clear that the XML user community sees
that as part of *their* purpose in applying XML.
But here we are talking about intent of its designers,
and "merely thinking about the purpose of XML" won't
enable me to read their minds.  ;)

> read up a little bit more in
> the spec  [... in which it is stated rather explicitly!]
> I would ask what part of that, or of the simple phrase
> "data object", or even of the basic concept of a markup language,
> doesn't cry out "data interchange metalanguage" to you?

It does indeed -- my apologies for not reading the annotations
more carefully!  I missed that one in particular.  Okay, you've
dragged me, kicking and screaming, to agree that the actual,
published design intent of XML is to provide a "data
interchange metalanguage".

Thanks to Fredrik for the link he included (elsewhere
in the "YAML" thread) to JavaScript Object Notation (JSON).
JSON looks like a notable improvement over XML for data
objects that are more fine-grained (higher ratio of markup to
non-markup -- e.g., most relational data sets, RDF, etc.)
than those at the more traditional "document" end of the
spectrum (less markup, more text).

The latter types of data objects are the ones I happen to believe
are in the sweet spot of XML's design, regardless of its designers'
more sweeping pronouncements (and hopes, no doubt).

I should note that I have to deal with XML a lot, but always
kicking and screaming (though much less now because of Fredrik's
Elementtree package ;).  Thanks, Fredrik and Peter, for the
references.  ;)


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