Microsoft to push XML as alternative to Java
By Lynda Radosevich
Posted at 6:27 AM PT, Aug 30, 1997
In an effort to boost the Extensible Markup Language's role in transforming
browsers into sophisticated front-end clients, Microsoft plans soon to
propose an Extensible Markup Language (XML) style-sheet language to the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), according to sources close to the
The move, if successful, would enable developers to create the kinds of
browser-based database forms that many are considering building as Java
applications and help foster the development of vendor-neutral data formats.
"It's a big win for the users because neutral data is where people want to
be in the long run," said Mark Walter, editor of the Seybold Report on
Internet Publishing, in Media, Pa.
XML is attractive to Microsoft -- which wants to increase the appeal of its
Internet Explorer 4.0 browser and slow down the adoption of Java -- and to
developers who believe Java is not yet mature enough for building the
client side of business applications.
"You could still use a Java applet to display XML data, but you wouldn't
have to," Walter said.
A W3C policy prohibits members from talking about a submission. But a
Microsoft official said an XML style-sheet language is necessary because
XML, which lets users define their own tags, requires more data-centric
display capability than does HTML, which is more document centric.
"A style-sheet language has to be able to handle data not coming with an
order attached to it," said Tom Johnston, product manager of platforms
marketing at Microsoft.
As in any style-sheet language, the goal of Microsoft's XML version will be
to separate the display structure and formatting from the content itself,
which is key to providing a neutral client for displaying data.
Microsoft's proposal won't be the first. Bitstream two weeks ago proposed a
Template Style Language for controlling the appearance of XML-tagged data
on a Web page, said Paul Trevithick, vice president of marketing at
Bitstream, in Cambridge, Mass.
In addition, groups within the W3C are working on extending existing style
sheets for HTML and Standard Generalized Markup Language. But having
Microsoft's muscle involved can only help speed up the development of an
XML style sheet language and XML in general.
"If Microsoft does make a submission to W3C, we will be excited about any
progress that happens," said Eric Byunn, senior product manager for
Netscape Communicator, in Mountain View, Calif.
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