XML whuzzup

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From: Strata Rose Chalup (strata@virtual.net)
Date: Fri Aug 11 2000 - 17:01:33 PDT

I have the intuitive feeling that XML must be a great thing, since so
many people whom I respect are excited about it. But...help me out
here, folks--

In 1993 when I discovered ncsa_httpd, less than 5 hours elapsed between
the time I heard of it and when I was writing HTML documents in vi on my
sparc box and displaying them in Mosaic. Wow, that was cool!

I spent most of the last 3 days digging for XML stuff, and other than
some dry specs, a lot of verbiage, Java stuff that made me download 112
Mb of cascading libraries which each required more libraries until I
gave up, and MS-Windows native stuff, I can't find ANYTHING to just sit
down and get excited about. Sure, I can find things that will let me
shove an XML document to them on the command line it will tell me that
it's *valid* or *well-formed* and that's about it.

Somebody want to give away the big secret and tell me what I can DO with
it other than mark up data? I guess the fun is if you're a programmer
you can mark up a piece of text data and choose which pieces to display
and which ones to use as metadata, act on, pass to the exec frame (woo!
mark up XML with live perl in the tags!) etc?

Is that all there is to it? Someday (even now) I can mark up my todo
list so that your todo list will be able to see which items I have in
RED, or are "Due Tuesday" or whatever? What I see is the potential to
wrap data of arbitrary types in something that looks suspiciously like a
C typedef with different punctuation and BNF notation, so that you can
essentially virtually pass globals (with "shared memory", etc) between
programs, websites, what-the-hell-ever.

OK, that's pretty cool. But...

Am I missing something really fundamental, or is there *absolutely
nothing to get excited about re XML if I'm not a programmer*? Nothing
there to give me that thrill I got formatting my first HTML docs and
seeing the results right there, or making little scripts to go in an tag
up my existing docs based on whitespace formatting, etc?

Is there XML for the Common Man, or should Copeland go back to sleep?

Sounds like unless I have two programs that want to talk to each other,
I can resume my nap. I want to be wrong. Somebody tell me...


Strata Rose Chalup [strata@knownow.com]   |  strata@virtual.net, KF6NBZ
Director of Network Operations            |       VirtualNet Consulting
KnowNow, Inc [http://www.knownow.com]     |      http://www.virtual.net/

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