XML 1.0 becomes a W3C Recommendation

From owner-tei-l@LISTSERV.UIC.EDU Tue Feb 10 18:48:39 1998
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 18:15:36 -0600 (CST)
From: C M Sperberg-McQueen <cmsmcq@tigger.cc.uic.edu>
Subject: XML 1.0 becomes a W3C Recommendation

XML 1.0 Is Official

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the publication of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) as a W3C Recommendation (text of press release at http://www.w3.org/Press/1998/XML10-REC). The Text Encoding Initiative greets this development as a major milestone in the development of a network infrastructure usable for literary, linguistic, historical, and other text-based research.

XML is a simplified subset of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), the international standard on which the TEI's encoding scheme is based. XML is simpler than SGML, which means that it will be easier to develop tools to support XML than to support full SGML. For all practical purposes, however, XML has the same expressive power as SGML. This means that texts encoded according to the TEI Guidelines can be used readily, after a simple mechanical process of normalization, in an XML environment.

With XML and the related standards XLL and XSL (now being developed by W3C work groups), the World Wide Web will gain the flexibility long known to users of SGML: the ability to use different tag sets for different purposes or different kinds of material. At the same time, XML preserves the simplicity of design and implementation which has done so much to ensure the success of the Web.

A great deal of the interest in XML is commercial in nature, and many believe that XML will play a key role in making Web-based electronic commerce feasible. But that is not its only importance. Susan Hockey, a member of the TEI's steering committee and the former secretary of the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing, commented that "XML will be extremely important not only for commercial exploitation of the Internet, but for research at all levels and in all fields: personal, educational, and professional. Everyone interested in the digital preservation and use of knowledge will find, in XML, a powerful new tool."

Allen Renear, the new President of the Association for Computers and the Humanities (and the head of the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown University) summarized the importance of XML to the humanities very bluntly: "XML will make digital libraries possible."

The TEI--and thus, indirectly, also the TEI's major funding agency, the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency--has provided significant support for the development of XML: its North American editor (the poster of this message), serves as a co-editor of the XML specification, together with Tim Bray of Textuality and Jean Paoli of Microsoft. And the TEI's European editor, Lou Burnard, serves as a member of the XML Special Interest Group, which is responsible for clarifying the technical issues before action is taken by the XML Working Group. The TEI is currently preparing for the possible revision of the TEI markup scheme to make it formally XML compliant; some TEI users have already begun experimenting with XML versions of the TEI document type definitions.

"The wide adoption of XML by existing SGML vendors, Web software providers, and academic software developers will make the use of TEI encoding significantly easier: TEI users will have more and easier access to off-the-shelf tools for multilingual data preparation, linguistic annotation, and network distribution," said Judith Klavans, the Director of the Center for Research on Information Access at Columbia University, who represents the Association for Computational Linguistics on the TEI steering committee.

Most important, we expect TEI users to be among the first and most enthusiastic adopters of this new W3C Recommendation. David Chesnutt, the coordinator of the Model Editions Partnership and a long-time TEI participant and user, said recently that XML is important because it will let scholarly audiences have different views of the same document, on the Web. Julia Flanders, Textbase Editor at the Brown University Women Writers Project, said in response to a query, "XML is the answer to every academic text encoder's prayers."

XML is a great step forward for everyone interested in the digital preservation of our cultural heritage or in computer-assisted research into human language and human texts. The TEI is happy to be part of it.

-C. M. Sperberg-McQueen
Senior Research Programmer, University of Illinois at Chicago
Editor, ACH/ACL/ALLC Text Encoding Initiative
Co-coordinator, Model Editions Partnership

cmsmcq@uic.edu, tei@uic.edu
+1 (312) 413-0317, fax +1 (312) 996-6834