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LinuxWorld: Practical XML with Linux, Part 2: A survey of tools

Aug 23, 2000, 19:46 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Uche Ogbuji)

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"The most amazing thing about XML's incredible rise, which I think has been quicker than that of the PC, Java, or even the Web, is the fact that it is still as open as ever. Even though XML was originally intended to encourage data interchange by providing both human and machine readability, the odds were that a powerful company or group of companies would foul the waters. Many vertical industries, such as the automobile industry (which recently surprised analysts by announcing a huge XML-driven online exchange), the health care industry, and the chemical industry, have adopted XML as their preferred data-exchange format. If the likes of Microsoft (the early and ongoing XML champion) and Oracle could co-opt standards for XML processing, they could increase their domination in such industries under the guise of openness: the perfect monopolistic Trojan horse."

"This was never an idle menace. Last year, Microsoft nearly derailed XSLT by bundling a mutation of XSLT, different from the emerging standards and laden with Microsoft extensions, into its Internet Explorer 5 browser. Many Linux advocates cried loudly about Microsoft's "embrace-extend-extinguish" move on Kerberos, but that was a weak jab compared to the MS XSL ploy. Since Internet Explorer is by far the most popular browser, Microsoft ensured that most of the world's XSLT experience would come through their proprietary version, and nearly made that version the de facto standard. There were many flame wars on the XSL-List mailing list (see Resources) when Explorer users arrived in droves asking what the proper XSLT was."

"But then something surprising happened. Microsoft's customers said loudly and clearly that they didn't want an MS flavor of XSLT -- they wanted the standard. The first sign that Microsoft understood this was a slow migration to the standard in Internet Explorer updates. Then MS developers announced publicly that their new design goal was full compliance with the XSLT standard. Finally, after some prodding on XSL-List, several of Microsoft's developers admitted they had been receiving numerous email messages asking them to get in line."

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