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1"Today, Postscript; tomorrow XML" [XML in the News]

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  • Michael Smith
    Jun 28, 2000
      XML in the News...

      Included in this message is a recent news story titled,
      "XML moves to the mainstream." The final section, "Today,
      PostScript; tomorrow, XML" is especially interesting.

      To access the original HTML version of the story, visit:



      XML moves to the mainstream

      By Andreas Pfeiffer, the Pfeiffer Report on Emerging Trends and
      Technologies, Special to ZDNet [Monday June 26 02:16 PM EDT]


      Already a vehicle for high-end content and asset management on
      the Web, the industrial-strength markup language is poised to
      break into shrink-wrapped applications.

      What is happening with Extensible Markup Language?

      Over the past few years, the markup language derived from SGML
      (Standard Generic Markup Language) has gained a lot of ground
      in high-end information-management applications. Lately, XML
      has also become an industry buzzword, a must-have feature for
      anybody working in modern content-processing applications.

      While XML has been the backbone for high-end applications for
      some time, the market for shrink-wrapped XML products is also
      starting to take off.

      Quark Inc. just shipped avenue.quark, its XML import/export
      extension for QuarkXPress. Meanwhile, Adobe Systems Inc.
      (Nasdaq:ADBE - news) has released FrameMaker 6.0, which exports
      (but doesn't import) XML and has announced XML support for the
      next version of Golive, to name just a few examples.

      As for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT - news), the company's
      recently announced .Net strategy for Internet-based services is
      also based on XML.

      Twenty questions

      Is there a low-end XML market? What strategies should software
      developers use to jump on the XML bandwagon? Will XML simply
      stay a data format, or is there an emerging market for XML

      There's no quick and easy answer to these questions. XML is a
      very powerful tool, and it has proven over and over that as far
      as data interchange goes, it has a lot to offer.

      In recent years, XML has become the de facto standard for
      high-end content and asset management. Therefore, it's not
      surprising that more and more software developers are flocking
      to support it.

      We are currently going through a trend of media consolidation,
      both on the corporate level and as far as end users are
      concerned. High-end applications are increasingly required to
      support XML. But where is the low end of the market going?

      And for developers, is there room for an XML killer app?

      Quark's XML avenue

      Quark is giving the market a shot with avenue.quark, which will
      also be part of XPress 5.0. avenue.quark is an extension for
      XML import and export that angles for high-end integration of
      XPress-based content with XML-based Web-authoring systems such
      Vignette Story Server.

      It is also a showcase application to demonstrate that Quark is
      moving full steam into cross-media publishing. It will be
      interesting to observe whether avenue.quark will build a user
      base outside its captive audience, namely high-end Web content
      managers who need to integrate XPress-based content with their
      data-serving applications on the Web.

      For the main publishing market to move seriously to XML-based
      data structures, it will be necessary to re-engineer the
      applications and proprietary data structures extensively. This
      won't happen overnight. For example, while avenue.quark will
      outfit XPress 5 with XML import and export, there's little to
      indicate that the XPress file format will be rewritten to move
      closer to XML-based structures.

      As for Adobe, the company's official position on XML is not
      very clear yet either, despite its moves to embrace established

      Who needs it?

      For software developers, it is important to assess how much XML
      support and development will be needed in order to stay ahead
      of the market. And that in turn will depend on whether XML data
      structures can move beyond the realm in which they have
      acquired standard status.

      Does the end user need XML? More importantly, does the end user
      think he needs XML? Market perception can be as important as
      genuine need for a an emerging technology.

      Interestingly, XML reverses the common pattern of technology
      adoption that has driven much of the high-tech market.
      Practically all tools that have gained predominant market
      position have evolved from the ground up, starting their
      careers as end-user applications and then becoming increasingly
      professional. If XML moves beyond vertical, high-end
      applications, its progress will represent the inverse of that
      standard operating procedure.

      In the end, whether or not the markup language becomes
      pervasive beyond the high end of content management will also
      depend on software developers.

      Today, PostScript; tomorrow, XML

      Right now, there is a consensus that XML is complex and needs
      specially trained operators. Nevertheless, PostScript drawing
      packages and other applications have demonstrated that it is
      indeed possible to make complex, programming-based processes
      reasonably simple to use.

      XML is today where PostScript was before the arrival of Adobe
      Illustrator: a programming language that could be manipulated
      through a number of specialized utilities -- but did not really
      have much end-user functionality.

      For XML to become as much a standard as Adobe's
      page-description language will require strong development
      efforts as well as broad end-user interest and education, which
      only happens when products move into the highly competitive
      realm of shrink-wrapped software.

      The market is not there yet, but XML is not going away. We are
      living in a world where non proprietary data-structures have
      become essential to an increasing number of users. What really
      remains to be seen is which of the industry players will be
      capable of capturing and focusing this growing market interest
      with an XML killer app.


      Andreas Pfeiffer is an industry analyst and editor in chief of
      the Pfeiffer Report on Emerging Trends and Technologies.