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The most exciting recent development in computing...

...isn't a faster chip, or a really cool new site, or even the widespread availability of high speed net connections (although that comes close). It's XML (Extensible Markup Language).

XML is not just a simple solution to a complex problem. It's a simple solution to several hundred complex problems. The World Wide Web Consortium external link calls XML "the universal format for structured documents and data on the web."

What format supports both elegant visual representation of mathematical expressions and their manipulation by programs such as algebra systems? MathML, an application of XML.

How do we make the next generation of HTML both simpler and more powerful? XHTML, an XML application that reformulates HTML.

The UN is promoting ebXML, an XML application, "to enable a global electronic marketplace where enterprises of any size and in any geographical location can meet and conduct business." Microsoft is trying to beat them to the punch with XML-based BizTalk.

Microsoft and others are advocating SOAP (the Simple Object Access Protocol), a combination of XML and HTTP, as the next generation approach to remote procedure calls.

And if you're not a tech-head, you might be more intrigued to hear that a dictionary of East Asian literary terms external link was just published online in XML.

And this is all before XML even reaches formal adoption as a standard.

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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.