Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why are people asking for XML?

I wouldn't mind if everyone was saying "MS-Word, MS-Word, MS-Word".
What concerns me is that XML is a behind-the scenes recommendation. It
is like saying "roman alphabet". It gives you some structure, but does
not solve your problems. Solutions can be built utilizing it as an
intermediate step. The same solutions could be built using any other
data storage mechanism. If you look at the "X" in "XML", it stands for
"eXtensible". This means that any one can make their own proprietary
version (like Microsoft has done), immediately defeating the
interchangeability that everyone praises XML for. I think XML is good,
but it is only a step towards people being able to talk to each other
(or in this case machines or programs). Currently I find HTML to be a
better standard because its purpose is more tightly defined, and there
is wider agreement on how it works.

XML by itself does not save any money. If I sent you a SCORM manifest
written in XML, MS-Word would have no idea what to do with it. If I
send this same document to a browser, all it can do is display it. If I
send it to a SCORM conformant LMS, now there is a system that can do
something with it. Just because something is XML does NOT mean that it
will work everywhere with everything or even that it will save any
money. If XML were a standard, maybe it would solve the problems that
need to be solved. As it is, the communication is only improved when
both sides speak the same variant of XML.

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