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Ten Predictions for XML in 2007 71

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the crystal-balls dept.
An anonymous reader writes "2007 is shaping up to be the most exciting year since the community drove off the XML highway into the Web services swamp half a decade ago. XQuery, Atom, Atom Publishing Protocol (APP), XProc, and GRRDL are all promising new power. Some slightly older technologies like XForms and XSLT are having new life breathed into them. 2007 will be a very good year to work with XML."
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Ten Predictions for XML in 2007

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  • There's one reason I like JSON way more than XML, and its name is RSI.
    • by Osty (16825) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:29PM (#18117726)

      There's one reason I like JSON way more than XML, and its name is RSI.

      If you're getting RSI from XML, you're not doing it right. Use a tool! Anyway, the real reason to use JSON instead of XML is cross-site security restrictions. You can't make an XmlHTTPRequest call from one domain to another, but you can add a <script /> tag with a src pointing somewhere else.

      • XML is broken (Score:5, Insightful)

        by oohshiny (998054) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:13PM (#18118062)
        If you're getting RSI from XML, you're not doing it right. Use a tool!

        So, you're saying that in order to use a markup language whose primary design goal was to be easy for human beings to work with, I should invest in buying and learning at tool? Never mind that I have never even seen a decent XML editor.

        Sorry, but XML is just bad design: it's badly designed for machines, and it's badly designed for humans. Using tools to deal with it may be a workaround, but it's certainly not "doing it right".

        In fact, the best compromise is probably simply not to write code in XML, but pick one of the better alternative formats and convert to XML after editing.
        • Re:XML is broken (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Osty (16825) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:20PM (#18118096)

          So, you're saying that in order to use a markup language whose primary design goal was to be easy for human beings to work with, I should invest in buying and learning at tool? Never mind that I have never even seen a decent XML editor.

          No, I'm saying that you should rarely have to edit XML directly yourself. For the times that you do, use a nice programmer's editor like PSPad or Visual Studio that will automatically add close tags (cut your typing in half!). The rest of the time, you should be generating your XML programmatically from some other data source.

          In fact, the best compromise is probably simply not to write code in XML, but pick one of the better alternative formats and convert to XML after editing.

          Since when is XML "code"? Writing an XSL/T to apply to an XML file may be code-like, but in general XML should be a data format that you pass around between applications, not something you "code" yourself.

          • JEdit (Score:5, Informative)

            by CaptainPinko (753849) on Friday February 23, 2007 @12:06AM (#18118390)

            May I suggest JEdit [jedit.org]? It supports XML out-of-the-box and is open source and runs anywhere and is a great* editor by any measure. If after having your XML closing tags auto-completed, indented, and validated effortlessly in this editor leaves XML still too much work for you, then I hope you never use anything beyond Vi, APL, and LaTex.**

            *I said "great" not "perfect". Lets keep this civilised.

            **Nothing wrong with any of these: just examples of the tersest things of which I could think.

          • by skeevy (926052)

            Since when is XML "code"? Writing an XSL/T to apply to an XML file may be code-like, but in general XML should be a data format that you pass around between applications, not something you "code" yourself.

            Code hidden as XML is everywhere. Ever since someone promoted the fallacy that XML is not code, applications everywhere have spawned little crappy domain-specific languages whose syntax is XML.

            Here's a quick test: do you check the XML document in to your version control or configuration management system? Then it's code.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Osty (16825)

              Here's a quick test: do you check the XML document in to your version control or configuration management system? Then it's code.

              Oddly enough, I also check-in READMEs, SETUPs, images, doc files, etc. None of those are code, and neither is my XML configuration file (for example).

            • by google (125927)
              So I WAS on the right track when I was trying to color-correct that JPG using TextMate. Thanks!
        • it's annoying to write, it's annoying to parse. Python serialization was designed better. I'll probably never design a format under XML, but it looks like I'm sure gonna have to use some. Oh, well. If everyone goes along and it brings us some interoperability utopia, then screw optimality and go for it. Yay XML!
        • Re:XML is broken (Score:4, Interesting)

          by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Friday February 23, 2007 @12:16AM (#18118484) Journal

          pick one of the better alternative formats and convert to XML after editing

          Well said. A good example is RELAX NG [wikipedia.org]: write the source in the compact syntax [relaxng.org] and convert it to XML when/if you need it.

          A simple compact syntax example:

          start = element title { text }*

          The equivalent XML (and the RELAX NG XML format is considered much better than, e.g., W3C XML Schema):

          <grammar xmlns="http://relaxng.org/ns/structure/1.0">
          _ <start>
          _ _ <zeroOrMore>
          _ _ _ <element name="title">
          _ _ _ _ <text/>
          _ _ _ </element>
          _ _ </zeroOrMore>
          _ </start>
          </grammar>

          (Please ignore the underscores.)

          Remember people: XML may be good for data interchange between different applications because every language ever created by the gods has an XML parser, but don't use it for anything else. To quote Phillip J. Eby [dirtsimple.org]: Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use XML." Now they have two problems.

          • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday February 23, 2007 @08:38AM (#18120936)

            To quote Phillip J. Eby: "Some people, when confronted with a problem, think 'I know, I'll use XML.' Now they have two problems."

            And I have a t-shirt that says (in the style of those motivational posters) "Abstraction: because the first step in solving any problem is always to create more problems." So, does that mean abstraction is bad, too?

        • So, you're saying that in order to use a markup language whose primary design goal was to be easy for human beings to work with, I should invest in buying and learning at tool?

          XML is not meant to be easy to "work" with as such, it's meant to be human understandable for things like debugging and development.

          The XML creators have been quite clear on a number of occasions that they never expected people to be writing XML by hand.
          • by oohshiny (998054)
            The XML creators have been quite clear on a number of occasions that they never expected people to be writing XML by hand.

            This was out of the XML creators' hands, since the basic syntax was created by the SGML designers, and they designed the syntax with the intent that it be easy to use for humans. Of course, they were wrong.

            In any case, the fact remains that XML is a lousy language for humans and it's a lousy language for computers.
        • by ajs318 (655362)

          Never mind that I have never even seen a decent XML editor
          You need to try Kate [kate-editor.org].
        • In fact, the best compromise is probably simply not to write code in XML, but pick one of the better alternative formats and convert to XML after editing.
          So what do you suggest for "better alternative formats?"
        • ...In fact, the best compromise is probably simply not to write code in XML, but pick one of the better alternative formats and convert to XML after editing.

          XML files are NOT "Code", but a methodology of laying out data in a hierarchical [wikipedia.org] format. The human brain structures data in a hierarchical format. But in a binary world, relational [wikipedia.org] formats are more efficient. You may be thinking of the XSLT [wikipedia.org], which is used to convert XML data to a HTML format. I would agree with you on that point. As for XSD, a met
        • That is right, it's extremely difficult to use XML unless you have a tool, like a computer. Technically, you can use XML with a pencil and paper, but it's difficult, and a pencil is a tool too. You can also write XML in the sand with a stick, but sticks are also tools. Another thing you can do is think about XML with your brain, but your brain is also a tool. So yes, you do have to use tools in order to use XML, and if you don't have any tools like brains or sticks or pencils or computers, then no, you sho

    • That's why I gave up using bitmap images. Looking at the picture, dividing it into a grid of units (I call them pixels, short for picture elements - cute, eh?), estimating the RGB values, converting them to hex and keying them in just got to be too much effort.
    • There's one reason I like JSON way more than XML, and its name is RSI.

      You're typing any of this stuff by hand? You're kidding right?

      JSON and XML are appropriate as a wire protocol for app 2 app communication. JSON is appropriate only when the receiving application is written in java script. There are only two scenarios that I can think off right off the bat that I might hand type XML. One is a configuration file (e.g. WEB-INF\web.xml) and the other is a GRDDL [w3.org] style personal vanity site which isn't going to be that much more typing than HTML.

      Typing lots of content usi

  • My hope.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gregmac (629064) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:35PM (#18117774) Homepage
    ..that XML will stop being a buzzword, and we will no longer see products with "XML support" as a feature point (supporting formats that USE XML is fine, but "XML" itself is a container format, it can describe literally ANYTHING..)
    • by Shados (741919)
      The worse is job descriptions that asks for "Experience working with XML".

      Doing -what- with XML?! Thats so freakin generic, sometimes I wonder if I should put "experience with flat text files" on my resume...
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by Jeffrey Baker (6191)
        XML has standard APIs (DOM, XPath, and so forth) that plain text lacks. So although experience with flat text files is meaningless, experience with XML is not. Organizations advertising for XML expertise will be happy to hear that their job ads have turned away the clueless, such as yourself.
        • Re:My hope.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 23, 2007 @03:33AM (#18119620)
          Write a CSV parser, and then you can say that working with flat text files "is meaningless." It's harder than people think. The PHP fgetcsv() function gets it wrong right off the bat by forgetting that a newline can appear within a quoted field.

          What a world we live in, when knowing and doing more is derided just because it isn't buzzword compliant.
        • by daeg (828071)
          If they are advertising a job that indicates "Experience with XML", they are going to get shit for replies. They are going to get coders that have written a configuration file in XML by hand and think that means "Experience with XML". If the company actually wants DOM, XPath, and XSL, they need to say "Experience with XML; experience with XPath, DOM, and XSL a plus" or something of that nature.
          • by Shados (741919)
            Thank you. Someone gets it, and thats exactly what I meant.

            When I see "Experience with XML", i'm wondering, do they mean knowing the actual concept of XML, including namespaces, etc? Do they mean using XML as a basic data transfer format, ala Web Service? Do they mean using XML as a near database? Or do they mean full blown programming with XPath, DOM, XSLT, etc?

            I've seen all 3, and more (I -have- seen job offers for programmers with 4+ years exp in XML that only wanted people to be able to read XML config
    • by plopez (54068)
      As soon as it no longer is a buzz word, it will be dying :)

      It wil have been replaced with the next great buzz word.
    • by Planetes (6649)
      We use it to import and export data between different subcontractor engineering software.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gregmac (629064)
        Oh, so then I can take my XML from my subcontractor engineering software:

        <info>
        <building>
        <foundation>
        <cost>400000</cost>
        </foundation>
        <insulation>
        <cost>200000</cost>
        </insulation>
        <roof>
        <style>flat</style>

    • by cof (471791)
      "literally ANYTHING?" How about a character 0 (null terminator)? Perhaps "anything" is too strong. I guess you can "describe it", just don't try to encode it. (try it, you won't like it.)

      How about "documents"? For documents it qualifies as ... ok, verbose, but better than it's predecessors (html, sgml). But it's a seriously lame data format, even as a container or transport format. It's verbose, slow, complex, and yet ... still incomplete. For the time and energy that's gone into XML we could have ha
    • > "XML" itself is a container format
      and a bad one at that.
  • Wow, I guess I'm going to have start thinking of XML as a serious technology instead of a Latest-Fad-Tech-Widget-Buzzword-Laden curiousity. Well, I've still got the ol' fall back, WWW.

    • by Bargearse (68504)
      Is Latest-Fad-Tech-Widget-Buzzword-Laden related to Osama-bin-Laden at all? :)

      • by WED Fan (911325)

        Is Latest-Fad-Tech-Widget-Buzzword-Laden related to Osama-bin-Laden at all? :)

        Sir, this is the Bush Regime...er, Department of State Security...uh,Secret Police....no, Department of Homeland Security. We understand that you have posted about Osama Bin Laden. Are you related to him? Would you mind coming with us so we can discuss this? Do you know where he is? Because we'd really like to talk with him. No, sir, he's not in trouble, we just have a few questions.

        Oh, you were posting on /., well that's anothe

  • I've got some. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It will still be used as the wrong tool for the job. People will still design schemas with a 15:1 bloat:actual-data ratio. It will find itself used in applications which benefit not at all from any of its strengths, but those strengths will be the selling point.
  • Who else was hoping that "XML dies and goes away" would be on the list? :D
    • OpenDocument or Microsoft Office Open XML? Let's see, 10 years of XML hell so this battle should be good for another 10.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uradu (10768)
      In my experience those who hate it the most are those who understand it the least.
      • Because I know how to make parsers to process it (wich are slower than parsers for about any other form of data).

        Because I know s-expressions which are easier to type and encode much more information that XML. s-expressions can be data exactly like XML, but can also be code. Beautiful code.

        Because is more a marketing buzzword than real meat.

        That said, I use XML when I have to, like generating XLS files in PHP. But I would not use it at all if I didn't received money for doing it.
        • by uradu (10768)
          > Beautiful code.

          Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and parenthesis hell isn't particularly beautiful to me. For a human readable format, I find it a lot harder to match small closing parentheses than explicit--albeit more verbose--closing tags, especially since you very rarely find multiple consecutive identical closing tags in real data.

          > That said, I use XML when I have to

          Excellent, that's where the value of XML comes in. It's neither the most efficient, nor necessarily the most beautiful
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Wiseman1024 (993899)
      I'd kill XML in favour of either:

      - A standard binary, binary-safe serialization format that allows you to serialize simple objects: int, float, (unicode) string, list of any of these types and dictionary of int, float or string any of these types.

      - A real, binary-safe, flexible grammar processing tool that allows you to define grammars in EBNF and process them (preferrably, constructing and deconstructing the parse tree), being standard, clean, and multi-language. This will allow you to work with XML as we
      • by Ankh (19084) *
        Although we (W3C) are in fact working on more efficient binary encodings (www.w3.org/XML/EXI [w3.org]) this misses the point a little.

        The good thing about XML is that it isn't good for anything, but is mediocre for everything :-)

        The main original use case were not "INI files" or other configuration stuff, but computer documentation, and transcriptions of texts. Mixed content, such as paragraphs of running text in which certain items are marked, or tagged, in some way, was the primary goal. We really didn't predict
  • 1) more bloated and so
    2) slower and
    3) more hierarchical database 'bolt ons' with exciting new ways of violating ACID.

    What? Me cynical?
  • Ok,

    What I don't get is what the big deal is with XML web services, especially SOAP, sure it allows you to send data fairly easily, but it seems that we are adding computational complexity and bandwidth overload to the mix. I have used SOAP web services and am not sure why it is so popular compared to XML-RPC.
    Isnt there a more efficient way to send data than in XML?
    • by jma05 (897351) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:19AM (#18118896)
      SOAP is typed. XML-RPC isn't. So SOAP is easier to work with in conjunction with stub generators in statically typed languages. Dynamically typed languages are better off with XML-RPC.

      A better comparison is - Is SOAP any better than CORBA for what SOAP is being used for. It was initially sold with the "port 80" and "easier to debug than a binary protocol" arguments. Those don't hold much water any longer. Further, SOAP added a ton of extensions obliterating any ease of use promises, a trap that CORBA itself fell into. Heck, even the basic WSDL spec turned out to be difficult enough that stub generators aren't available for most languages. Python recently got one last week, but dynamic languages mostly went without.

      If all that one does is typed stateless procedural calls, CORBA is hardly anymore complex than SOAP and heck of a lot more efficient than SOAP.
    • by guardia (579095)
      Yes, it is exists and it's called CORBA http://www.omg.org/ [omg.org] . In particular, omniORB http://omniorb.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] is VERY fast. The only thing is that it's not a "Web service" and doesn't use HTTP.
      • by ardor (673957)
        Ugh. CORBA. It can hardly get more convoluted and over-engineered than CORBA. It tries to be everything and achieves nothing well.
        • by guardia (579095)
          The question was not how to make life easier, but how to transfer data more "efficiently" than XML :) But I agree, CORBA is pretty complex... for my own needs, I stick to the basics and forget things like Naming Services, Objects By Value, Component Model, the "Any" type, ugh.. I find that the mappings for Java, C++ and Python are not so ugly in that case, quite usable and much better than cooking up protocols with sockets everytime. It's too bad it got so bloated that it made people fear it and come up wi
  • by Chacham (981)
    <Predictions>
      <Prediction>All</Prediction>
      <Prediction>Your</Prediction>
      <Prediction>XML</Prediction>
      <Prediction>Are</Prediction>
      <Prediction>Belong</Prediction>
      <Prediction>To</Prediction>
      <Prediction>Us</Prediction>
      <Prediction></Prediction>
      <Prediction></Prediction>
    <Predictions>
  • Buzzwords (Score:1, Funny)

    by Wiseman1024 (993899)
    XML allows you to discover new business opportunities, maximize your profits, convert visitors into customers, cut development times and optimize cash flows allowing your enterprise to scale to your needs with Web 2.0 AJAX-based solutions built on web services in a SOA. By adhering to best-practice design patterns on XML, your applications can interact with each oth...

    (because XML is a universal language and networks did not allow you to do this already.)

    The trend is now to build XML (*fap*fap*fap*), then u
  • XASMML (eXtensible ASseMbler Markup Language) will enable your corporation to share data with customers with the speed of hardware! This exciting NEW [sic] concept in computer science will eliminate inefficiencies in the transmission stream, and allow you to beat competitiors to the market!
    Now included free with Office XPASM! :-D
  • Is this like, the late 1990's or what? This article is as breathy as an AI article in Byte Magazine. It is as over-hyped as a pump-and-dump stock spam scam. WHO GIVES A SHIT!?! We're talking about a data encoding scheme, not a polio vacine! Get a lIfE!

Passwords are implemented as a result of insecurity.

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