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XML Becomes Invisible

Wednesday, April 8, 1998 by Dave Winer.

Yesterday's piece was confusing.

I'm going to try again, leaving out the stuff about Java and open source code.

It melts in your mouth Permalink to It melts in your mouth

The role of XML is changing for me as I build applications where it's used but not visible. It'll be like that in all software. The benefit of XML will be compatibility. It won't be in your face, except perhaps in a smile, because two pieces of software just worked together and it surprised you in a pleasant way.

XML is worth some attention because it's about power -- your power to choose the software and vendors you want to work with. In other words, if you want choices without sacrificing compatibility, XML is for you.

XML and Microsoft Permalink to XML and Microsoft

But XML is forming around the structure of today's software industry. Microsoft is reasonably well organized internally, but the rest of the industry isn't. Unless something changes, that means XML could work well on Microsoft systems, but not as well on non-Microsoft systems.

I'm a software developer and I don't work for Microsoft. If that describes you too, then instead of focusing on Microsoft, let's look at ourselves. Are we organized for movement? Can we be more powerful than we are?

If each of us outside Microsoft looks hard at where our interests really lie, I think it's in compatibility with each other. The high road is to build efficient and simple bridges and then compete on features and performance, with each other, and with Microsoft.

Proposed manifesto Permalink to Proposed manifesto

We have a chance to do something historic with XML.

We can offer real compatibility and interchangeability.

We can eliminate a level of lock-in, and raise the level of competition.

A step in that direction, for this industry, would be truly historic.

Call to action Permalink to Call to action

This morning I revised our proposal, hopefully to clear up confusion and make it broader.


I tend to think in terms of scripting software. People remind me that there are other kinds of links. They are correct. XML-based communication is important for C++, Java, COBOL, as well as Python, Rexx, Visual Basic, JavaScript, Tcl and Perl.

Thanks for all the feedback, I think we're getting closer to the big picture.

Openly and publicly.

We'll keep digging together...


Dave Winer

PS: A manifesto is a public declaration of motives and intentions by a government or by a person or group regarded as having some public importance.

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."