26 Sep 2004 Ankh   » (Master)

XML I've been spending a little time thinking about the future of XML and plan post a little more on that subject here over the next few days. I don't want to do a front-page article just yet, as people get nervous when they hear the idea of changes to XML or anything to do with it.

It's not clear to me that we (W3C) should be making significant changes beyond stuff like supporting the latest Unicode and incorporating errata.

I'm not the only one to have published suggested reworks of XML; Tim Bray has his "Skunk-works" XML, and there are many others, but most focus on reducing coplexity or syntax and retaining expressive power. A few, such as LMNL, focus on reducing syntax and increasing expressive power, most notably by adding support for overlapping hierarchies.

With XML Query getting closer to a 1.0 version of the specification, with XML Schema getting much wider adoption, and with XSLT 2 also close to release, incorporating XML Schema as well as other much-needed functionality, it's time to think about the way forward.

We (W3C) have a Working Group whose task is to make a case for (or against) a standardised efficient (binary) transfer encoding for XML. Again, the outcome of that WG may inidicate some changes.

Some work has been less widely adopted, although that doesn't necessarily mean it's less important. We haven't seen very wide uptake of XPointer or XLink, and I admit that I'd personally like to see XSL/FO supported in Web browsers. Support for interchanging arbitrary chunks of XML was specified but never achieved critical mass.

People are using XML for a ton of stuff today that wasn't anticipated, and for some that was. It has become part of general computing infrastrcture - which is why people don't want to change it.

What's missing? Are there big pieces we (W3C? others/) should be working on?

This is getting a bit long for a diary entry. More tomorrow, if anyone cares :-)


Raph, I'm reminded that the Folio/F3 system by (I think) Jakob Valdez added conic sections to PostScript's primitives, which is why NeWS, which used F3 fonts, had an extra codeblock argument to "pathforall". The F3 font hinter had an excellent reputation, anf F3 fonts were typically smaller than TrueType for a roughly comparable (hard to measure) quality. Sorry if this is off-topic, I haven't been following Advogato after it went off-line for a while.

Pictures I've been having fun with DeviantArt for a while now (no, I'm not Ankh there, that's someone else) and the trouble with that is that it's making me want a better camera. The one that I have has the advantage of fitting easily into a pocket, and at 4 MPixels I can usually filter out the noise and end up with a fair-quality picture without having a huge SLR or medium-fomat camera slung around my neck. Maybe I'll end up with two camera. But a better scanner is on the cards first, because I've been scanning pictures from antiquarian books and putting them online; I have a number of old books with fabulous pictures, but that are too large formy scanner. So I think I'm going to get an A3/tabloid professional-quality flat-bed scanner. An alternative might be to get a rig that holds a medium-format camera in position a couple of metres away from a book on a stand where the page is open at a little over 90 degrees, as this doesnt' do so much damage to the spine of the book. Hmm, decsions, decisions :-)

Writing A while ago I started thinking about writing a book called What Every Unix Programmer Should Know. I don't have time to write a book right now, but I'm considering that maybe I could write a few chapters and edit contributions. I'll think about it. Every time I see a buffer overflow attack I think about spending more effort on stack protection, as well as wishing for good old-fashioned non-executable data pages as on the PDP-11 and VAX. So maybe it'd be beter spending energy trying to promote operating system robustness, an area where Unix once had huge advantages over Windows and MS-DOS.

OK, time for lunch.

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