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The XML 1.0 specification was recently (Feb. 10, 1998) released as a recommendation by the World Wide Web Consortium. XML is a subset of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) and it seems to be emerging as a universal syntax for defining non-proprietary document markup and data formats. XML made significant changes to SGML to reflect the nature of the Web and to make it easier to build tools that process XML.
Tim Bray, co-editor of the XML 1.0 specification, has used Perl extensively for huge text processing applications. He had a special interest in seeing a bridge built from Perl to XML -- one that would make it simple for programmers to process XML data. So, out of this interest, a small group of developers met at O'Reilly & Associates in Sebastopol, California for a one-day Perl/XML summit. In addition to Tim, those attending the summit were:
"In the design of XML, we were continuously mindful of the need to enable the fast, efficient creation of scripts and programs for processing XML," says Tim Bray.
"For many of us in the XML effort, the most important goal is to increase the proportion of the world's documents stored in open, non-proprietary formats," Bray continues. "Building slick XML processing into Perl makes the use of such formats more rewarding and helps frustrate the efforts of those who would imprison human knowledge behind the barbed-wire of proprietary file formats."
"XML is currently perceived as powerful and important, but not particularly easy," explains Larry Wall. "This makes XML and Perl naturally complementary, since Perl is a language that makes easy things easy to do, and hard things possible."
One of the first steps that the summit group identified was to get Perl working with Unicode (ISO 10646). Unicode enables code to be easily translated into other languages; XML requires Unicode. Larry Wall will lead the team working on this task.
The next step is figuring out at what level Perl actually provides support for XML: whether it's built into the language, implemented as a module or a combination of both.
Among the goals set at the meeting were:
-- Dale Dougherty, March 10, 1998