Re: Bill Joy kicks around XML for fun :-)

From: Matt Jensen (
Date: Sun Feb 25 2001 - 14:58:47 PST

On Sun, 25 Feb 2001, Rohit Khare wrote:

> BJ doesn't get it.

It could be because, if the transcript is accurate, Bill's too busy
thinking of what he's going to say next to let the interviewer finish his
sentences :-)

-Matt Jensen

> =================================================================
> O'Reilly: So what do you think about .NET?
> Joy: I don't know, they had to do something. It's imperial
> overstretch. It's just way too much. It's a top-down design, where
> they weren't even clear - the problem is they need a strategy, not
> ... the goal is total world domination and they invented something
> really complicated and messy.
> O'Reilly: So SOAP and XML-RPC - things like that - are in some sense
> relatively simple. Do you see them ...
> Joy: But Java and linking together the data types solves this
> component service composition model using programming language
> technology. XML doesn't because it's still just data. You still have
> to have a type system to plug the things together and essentially,
> dynamic linking, and you don't find that in XML just by itself. So
> you need Java and you essentially need what Jini does - whether
> you're hooked together with Jini RPC or an XML-formatted RPC is
> really kind of irrelevant. You still need the moral equivalent of
> dynamic linking if you're to have rich things that connect to each
> other. People will eventually realize that you need to do something
> like Jini.
> O'Reilly: I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that. On the other
> hand, I would argue that from a pragmatic point of view, systems that
> don't have all the features often beat systems that do. You know the
> Web was sort of ...
> Joy: Well, but either you can compose components with behavior or you
> can't. It's like the evolution of multi-cellular creatures. You can
> go along with single-cell organisms but at some point you will come
> up with a multi-cellular body plan. And you either can do it or you
> can't. And the problem is that without the ability to plug together
> behavior, you're basically stuck in these single cellular things. You
> end up with 1,000 different XML-based thingies that don't ever really
> compose to do anything together. You don't have composable things
> because you don't have the algebra to put things together.
> I think WAP is an example of a similar problem. Why did WAP fail?
> Because it's boring, and it's boring because it's static, because it
> didn't have any behavior. The screen is small and there's no way to
> really do much of anything dynamic. And so what you needed is
> downloadable behavior. You need basically a scripting language or
> Java or something in the handset to make it interesting.
> I think a similar problem here is XML. Yeah, you can do a few little
> things, but you're going to quickly run into the fact that you need
> behavior, not just data formats, because otherwise everything is too
> static and brittle. As long as there's no alternative, it's fine, but
> then you quickly discover things get to be kind of messy.
> O'Reilly: I'm not sure I agree with you there. I think you can in fact ...
> Joy: I know. The market doesn't agree with me, either. We'll come
> back in five years and find out.
> O'Reilly: Well, but is it really either-or? There really isn't ...
> Joy: Yes, I think ultimately these data-driven things will prove to
> be unsatisfactory. If anything, what we need is procedural component
> things plugging together using a more biological metaphor rather than
> -- Java is an engineered connection and what we really would like is
> some sort of constraint-based list-like connection which is, you
> know, rather difficult. We really wanted something that's beyond the
> state of the art, even goes beyond Java to do things in a much more
> organic-biological kind of way.

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