XMLization of the Web

XMLization of the web is bound to happen sooner are later. Already several websites deliver content in XML format. One of the popular XML tool vendors Altova of XMLSpy fame, announced Stylevision(TM) for building XML websites and converting HTML websites to XML. In my opinion, XMLization of the web is the first step towards moving to the Semantic Web.

When content travels from a backend database to the web page, somewhere along the line the semantics are lost. This problem can be avoided by keeping the web content in XML. Also, you get a host of other advantages like the easy repurposing of content, ability to exchange rich data with other applications, etc. This ability just gets us to the first step of an immensely interoperable web.

IDC predicts that the XML tools development market will reach $395 million by 2006 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41%. While most of the web publishing is about content, increasingly websites will merge content with applications. This movement opens up entirely new opportunities for XML components. It will be interesting watch evolution in this space.

Update – May 2016

It did happen (XML as the content format for web) and was dropped for html5. There are several reasons for this shift. XML, however, continues strong and appears in places you don’t expect (for example, as the definition of UX).

3 thoughts on “XMLization of the Web

  1. Its kind of interesting to read this post dated Sep 2002. We are living in the age of Web2.0 and may predict Web 3.0 would lead us Semantic Web. Would like to hear from you of how the XML has done since the day you wrote this post?

  2. I think parts of it was true, though not all of it. XML has been used on the web for a variety of reasons. As a transport in SOAP based web services, as a method of exchanging fragments of documents (AJAX), as a way to power lightweight webservices and mashups, as a method of defining the new rich internet applications (Flex, Silverlight, Lazlo), as a technology for integration including Federal Government. A variety of XML content formats (vocabularies) are in wide use. Even financial information is being published in XML (XBRL, Edgar). The XML vocabularies are there in almost every industry.

    With XHTML, you now have an XML based vocabulary for HTML which gave birth to technologies like microformats, eRDF. We still have a long way to go.

    The biggest disappointment for me is that the search engines have not gotten smarter to take advantage of the contextual information presented by XML formats.

    The next big leap will come from ODF and OOXML as people understand the true power and extensibility. With the success and consolidation of these formats, there will be more document formats emerging for special purposes.

    Most of the widget, gadget descriptions are in XML format too. This will usher in a new kind of universal (hopefully) web components.

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