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Why Use XML?

 
 
Randy Yates
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      09-20-2006
I was hoping someone here could answer this very basic question or
point me to something on the web (I googled but didn't find anything
reasonable).
--
% Randy Yates % "With time with what you've learned,
%% Fuquay-Varina, NC % they'll kiss the ground you walk
%%% 919-577-9882 % upon."
%%%% <(E-Mail Removed)> % '21st Century Man', *Time*, ELO
http://home.earthlink.net/~yatescr
 
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Philippe Poulard
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      09-20-2006
Randy Yates wrote:
> I was hoping someone here could answer this very basic question or
> point me to something on the web (I googled but didn't find anything
> reasonable).


Why not use XML ?

--
Cordialement,

///
(. .)
--------ooO--(_)--Ooo--------
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-----------------------------
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Have the RefleX !
 
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Bjoern Hoehrmann
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      09-20-2006
* Randy Yates wrote in comp.text.xml:
>I was hoping someone here could answer this very basic question or
>point me to something on the web (I googled but didn't find anything
>reasonable).


Your question is much like "why use wood?" The answers would depend on
whether you are trying to build a plane, a ship, or a house. There are
many wood-based solutions already available, there are many tools to
efficiently process wood, many people understand wood and processing of
wood, it comes in many flavour and is all in all quite flexible. You
would not use wood to build a plane though.
--
Björn Höhrmann · (E-Mail Removed) · http://bjoern.hoehrmann.de
Weinh. Str. 22 · Telefon: +49(0)621/4309674 · http://www.bjoernsworld.de
68309 Mannheim · PGP Pub. KeyID: 0xA4357E78 · http://www.websitedev.de/
 
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Andy Dingley
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      09-20-2006

Randy Yates wrote:

> I was hoping someone here could answer this very basic question


OK, so we have very clear trollsign on this one.

However I like your domain name and you've posted to a TeX group in the
past, so lets hope you're real.

Reasons to use XML:

* It's there

* It's useful

* It's international

* It's synergistic


The world is already full of XML. You have to use it (good or not),
just because everything else you're connecting to is already doing it.
"Why" is still up for debate, but "whether to bother" was forced
several years ago. Just too late to not deal with it nowadays.

It's useful. It actually works. Imagine that, a protocol that comes out
of nowhere, does something useful, has a readable spec and actually
works pretty well. There are a few corner cases where the alternative
might be "better", but by and large XML is not only a possible
solution, it's a damn good one that beats the competition on its own
merits.

It's international. These days The Hell Of Software Development (tm)
isn't about dodging the bouncing feature request, it's about the sudden
internationalisation request. Take a big, ugly (very ugly) English-only
web app and have your sales team suddenly flog it to both Eastern
Europe and an arabic-speaking country. Now deal with those character
encoding issues in a plain text format (by yesterday). In XML though,
you just pick a workable encoding, and the DOM does the rest of the
hard work. Even for CJKV

Best of all though it's synergistic. This is a great word, even though
sadly mis-used by duck-squeezers and crystal-botherers. It's the idea
that 2+2=5, or at least can give you the benefits of 5. The whole may
be greater than the simple sum of parts.

With XML, synergy means that if I use off-the-shelf tools to work to a
standard protocol, and that if you use compatible tools to work to the
same protocol, then our overall systems together will interwork well
and be more capable than either one in isolation. To take an example
from the TeX world, TeX is a great document format for typesetting, but
it's poor for document management of large libraries. In XML though
(such as DocBook) any generalised tools I've already built to look at
"XML documents" and "extract and index embedded Dublin Core" will
magically find themselves capable of working on my newly imported
library, simply because we've all used XML and some decent good
practice and other common standards. My hypothetical "XML indexing
toolset" doesn't care too much if it's looking at RSS newsfeed entries,
the British Library or contractual definitions.

(Not that I'm at all biased against TeX, which there's a risk I might
have to be working with soon for just this purpose)

On the downside, XML doesn't do a damn thing on its own and always
needs to have a "dialect" defined for it. This can be ad hoc and
unspecified (i.e. the emergent dialect that's observable by looking at
the data itself) or it can be formally specified and made rigid by DTD,
XML Schema and OWL ontology (the ability to do the first casually is a
big benefit over SGML). However you do always have such a dialect --
whenever you hear snake oil talked about in the XML world, it's usually
by someone who doesn't appreciate this and who thinks that synergistic
benefits arise purely from using XML, not from sharing this dialect
too. XML is _not_ an instant lingua franca for all data.

 
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Joe Kesselman
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      09-20-2006
Good answer, Andy. We should file that one as a FAQ response.

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Randy Yates
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      09-20-2006
"Andy Dingley" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> Randy Yates wrote:
>
>> I was hoping someone here could answer this very basic question

>
> OK, so we have very clear trollsign on this one.
>
> However I like your domain name and you've posted to a TeX group in the
> past, so lets hope you're real.
>
> Reasons to use XML:
>
> * It's there
>
> * It's useful
>
> * It's international
>
> * It's synergistic
>
>
> The world is already full of XML. You have to use it (good or not),
> just because everything else you're connecting to is already doing it.
> "Why" is still up for debate, but "whether to bother" was forced
> several years ago. Just too late to not deal with it nowadays.
>
> It's useful. It actually works. Imagine that, a protocol that comes out
> of nowhere, does something useful, has a readable spec and actually
> works pretty well. There are a few corner cases where the alternative
> might be "better", but by and large XML is not only a possible
> solution, it's a damn good one that beats the competition on its own
> merits.
>
> It's international. These days The Hell Of Software Development (tm)
> isn't about dodging the bouncing feature request, it's about the sudden
> internationalisation request. Take a big, ugly (very ugly) English-only
> web app and have your sales team suddenly flog it to both Eastern
> Europe and an arabic-speaking country. Now deal with those character
> encoding issues in a plain text format (by yesterday). In XML though,
> you just pick a workable encoding, and the DOM does the rest of the
> hard work. Even for CJKV
>
> Best of all though it's synergistic. This is a great word, even though
> sadly mis-used by duck-squeezers and crystal-botherers. It's the idea
> that 2+2=5, or at least can give you the benefits of 5. The whole may
> be greater than the simple sum of parts.
>
> With XML, synergy means that if I use off-the-shelf tools to work to a
> standard protocol, and that if you use compatible tools to work to the
> same protocol, then our overall systems together will interwork well
> and be more capable than either one in isolation. To take an example
> from the TeX world, TeX is a great document format for typesetting, but
> it's poor for document management of large libraries. In XML though
> (such as DocBook) any generalised tools I've already built to look at
> "XML documents" and "extract and index embedded Dublin Core" will
> magically find themselves capable of working on my newly imported
> library, simply because we've all used XML and some decent good
> practice and other common standards. My hypothetical "XML indexing
> toolset" doesn't care too much if it's looking at RSS newsfeed entries,
> the British Library or contractual definitions.
>
> (Not that I'm at all biased against TeX, which there's a risk I might
> have to be working with soon for just this purpose)
>
> On the downside, XML doesn't do a damn thing on its own and always
> needs to have a "dialect" defined for it. This can be ad hoc and
> unspecified (i.e. the emergent dialect that's observable by looking at
> the data itself) or it can be formally specified and made rigid by DTD,
> XML Schema and OWL ontology (the ability to do the first casually is a
> big benefit over SGML). However you do always have such a dialect --
> whenever you hear snake oil talked about in the XML world, it's usually
> by someone who doesn't appreciate this and who thinks that synergistic
> benefits arise purely from using XML, not from sharing this dialect
> too. XML is _not_ an instant lingua franca for all data.


Thanks Andy. I can assure you I am for real. That's a real phone
number below and I really live in North Carolina in a town called
Fuquay-Varina. I really am an electrical engineer who's a member of
the IEEE. Really. I'm not one of those wispy internet "non-entities."

I'm also asking for the very practical and relevent reason that I may
have an opportunity to develop a large on-line, web-based system for
my client and am wondering if XML would be applicable.

Also, please everyone note, I'm not trying to offend anyone or make
anyone angry. I'm simply asking for information.

In a nutshell, here's my dilemma (and I think it may be related to the
"dialect" you were referring to): To interpret any stream of
data---for example, a document in plain TeX---you must know the rules
for interpreting the symbols. So even though XML may provide a
mechanism for automating the definition of data types, the rules for
interpretation of those data types must also in a likewise manner be
known.

That's as precisely and concisely as I can state it given my current
feeble understanding of XML. If you, Andy, or anyone can help me get
a better grasp or understanding of XML, I'd appreciate it.
--
% Randy Yates % "...the answer lies within your soul
%% Fuquay-Varina, NC % 'cause no one knows which side
%%% 919-577-9882 % the coin will fall."
%%%% <(E-Mail Removed)> % 'Big Wheels', *Out of the Blue*, ELO
http://home.earthlink.net/~yatescr
 
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Joseph Kesselman
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-20-2006
Randy Yates wrote:
> So even though XML may provide a
> mechanism for automating the definition of data types, the rules for
> interpretation of those data types must also in a likewise manner be
> known.


Absolutely. XML is a shared syntax layer. When you build a data
representation language on top of XML, you still have to define and
implement its semantics.

Whether XML would be applicable depends on specifically what you're
doing with the system and what corner of it you're talking about.

There are a lot of good tutorials on the web about what XML is, what
tools are associated with it, and how to take advantage of it. It sounds
like you should start by reading some of those so you can ask more
specific/productive questions.


--
Joe Kesselman / Beware the fury of a patient man. -- John Dryden
 
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Istvan
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      09-20-2006
Why Use XML ???


Because we don't waste time with teaching different languages to the
machines.
AND
so they understood each other much better, communicate better,
cooperate better.. and they don't make misstakes.
And that's very important, that they don't make misstakes. Because we
depend on our machines. If they broke, we have a catastrophe.

 
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Randy Yates
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      09-20-2006
Joseph Kesselman <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
> [...]
> There are a lot of good tutorials on the web about what XML is, what
> tools are associated with it, and how to take advantage of it. It
> sounds like you should start by reading some of those so you can ask
> more specific/productive questions.


I'm happy with the scope and level of productivity my current
questions yield. Thanks for your concern, though, Joseph.
--
% Randy Yates % "And all that I can do
%% Fuquay-Varina, NC % is say I'm sorry,
%%% 919-577-9882 % that's the way it goes..."
%%%% <(E-Mail Removed)> % Getting To The Point', *Balance of Power*, ELO
http://home.earthlink.net/~yatescr
 
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Peter Flynn
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      09-20-2006
Randy Yates wrote:
> I was hoping someone here could answer this very basic question or
> point me to something on the web (I googled but didn't find anything
> reasonable).


FAQ. http://xml.silmaril.ie/basics/whatfor/

///Peter
--
XML FAQ: http://xml.silmaril.ie/
 
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