Happy 10th Birthday, XML
The Extensible Markup Language, or XML—a way of structuring data inside semantic tags that allow it to be interpreted consistently across disparate information systems—is the key to many types of business software today, not to mention the entire Web 2.0 revolution. And on Sunday, the critical Web standard turned 10 years old.
The Cambridge-based World Wide Web Consortium, which approved XML 1.0 as a recommended standard on February 10, 1998, is collecting “XML stories” or personal reminiscences from Web luminaries and plans a series of birthday-celebration events throughout 2008, according to a press release issued by the non-profit organization today. Befitting the geekiness of the anniversary, the W3C has also published an online guest book where netizens can leave their thoughts about XML.
“There is essentially no computer in the world, desk-top, hand-held, or back-room, that doesn’t process XML sometimes,” Tim Bray, director of web technologies at Sun Microsystems and a major contributor to (and co-editor of) the XML 1.0 standard, said in the W3C’s release. “This is a good thing, because it shows that information can be packaged and transmitted and used in a way that’s independent of the kinds of computer and software that are involved. XML won’t be the last neutral information-wrapping system; but as the first, it’s done very well.”
Bray has already published his own XML recollections, and Uche Ogbuji, principal consultant for Fourthought Inc., has published a paper on IBM’s DeveloperWorks website calling the last 10 years “the XML Decade.” Ogbuji tells an interesting story about the COBOL programming language, a business-oriented language that had nearly gone extinct until the late 1990s. That was when hundreds of companies still using decades-old legacy COBOL software realized that the Y2K problem could sink their systems—resulting in a huge new demand for COBOL programmers who could write around the problem.
Ogbuji calls the crisis “an extraordinary waste in resources spent agonizing over past assets rather than productively developing new ones”—the main lesson being that “it is extremely valuable to develop data so that it outlives the applications that presently operate on it. XML, used properly can help prevent such crises in productivity as the artificial COBOL boom of the 1990s, and even better, it can be a building block rather than a stumbling block for productivity by pointing the way to new applications in the constant quest for competitiveness.”
Trending on Xconomy
By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.