SGML: Text of PC Week article on XML

Text of PC Week article on XML

From Mon Apr 14 01:35:14 1997
Date: Sun, 13 Apr 1997 23:32:10 -0700
From: bosak@atlantic-83.Eng.Sun.COM (Jon Bosak)
Subject: Text of PC Week article


[The URL given in a previous message won't work for most people --
sorry for forgetting that.  Here is the text of the article.]
Date: 12-04-97
Source: PC Week News for April 14
Subject: Markup Language Takes HTML to Task
[Detail: PC Week News 14/15 (April 14, 1997) 6, by Michael  Moeller.]

Markup Language Takes HTML to Task

A new web page markup language that strips down SGML and picks up where HTML falls short is gaining momentum among software developers -- and it may even bring Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp. to the same standards table.

A working group of the World Wide Web Consortium last week posted the first draft specification for building complex hyperlinks in XML (eXtensible Markup Language). The new linking technology would enable a single XML hyperlink to point to multiple destinations.

XML is nearly finished after a year of work by W3C developers in Cambridge, Mass. Like Hypertext Markup Language, XML is born out of Standard Generalized Markup Language but is stripped of many of SGML's superfluous features.

SGML was created to render arbitrary data structures; XML retains SGML's extensible nature but is easier to use because it is built strictly for Web data and applications, W3C officials said at the group's conference here last week.

In addition, XML goes beyond HTML by enabling complex, one-to-many hyperlinking and the creation of larger, more structured documents through the use of finer-grain "tags" or identifiers. HTML tags are more generic and easier to use, but less capable of segmenting large documents.

XML enables users to create custom tags--something HTML does not allow-- and separates content from presentation formats, enabling XML Web pages to be repackaged for use on non-PC devices such as smart phones or personal digital assistants.

The potential of XML has caught the attention of Barbara Heninger, a technical publications manager in the IS group at Cadence Design Systems Inc., in San Jose, Calif.

"We have 220 manuals and need to provide our users with the ability to search and find information in them that they need quickly," said Heninger. "XML enables me to add intelligence to my documents that I cannot get with HTML."

The language also is gaining momentum among ISVs. Microsoft officials are promising full support for XML beginning with the third preview release of Internet Explorer 4.0, due by early summer. Microsoft's interest in XML is its ability to support Channel Definition Format, a standard proposed by the Redmond, Wash., company for pushing content to its Active Desktop.

Netscape is looking to support XML but, unlike Microsoft, has not fully committed to it. Officials at the Mountain View, Calif., company said XML is a technology that is being closely watched and could be very useful for solving specific needs.

Adobe Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., Novell Inc. and Hewlett- Packard Co. also have endorsed XML, but they have not specified product plans.