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Joe Mabel offers some thoughts on XML

Ironically, I spent part of my very last day at Saltmine in January 2001 writing a "thought-leadership piece" for the company's web site, laying out some of my/our thinking on XML, especially as it applies to wireless technology. Needless to say, it never saw the light of day: a company doesn't want to show that they have laid off one of their thought leaders.

It seemed a pity not to share some of my thoughts on the topic, so I've decided to do an equivalent "think piece" here on my own site.

You can follow the >>> arrows to stay on the main line of this article; I've also thrown in some short sidebar-ish pieces for those who may not already be familiar with XML.


Sidebar: What exactly is XML?

The World Wide Web Consortium external link calls XML "the universal format for structured documents and data on the web." XML is a simplified version of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), much more suitable than SGML for use on the Web.

If you are familiar with HTML, XML will look familiar. Just imagine an HTML-like language, where you could invent new tags and attributes to represent different types of information instead of just layout of web pages. For example, the following would be a valid XML fragment:

<country name="United States of America" shortname="USA" continent="North America">
    <headofgovernment title="President">George W. Bush</headofgovernment>
<country name="United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" shortname="UK" continent="Europe">
    <monarch title="Queen">Elizabeth II</monarch>
    <headofgovernment title="Prime Minister">Tony Blair</headofgovernment>

In October 2000, XML officially became a W3C recommendation to the ISO for recognition as an international standard, but it already has had more influence than most formally adopted standards.

The W3C maintains an official web page about XML at http://w3c.org/XML external link.

Copyright ©2001 Joseph L. Mabel

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January 26, 2001

June 2003: Joe Mabel is now Director of Development at the Lux external link Group.