XML at 5: Its Still Ubiquitous

The original XML recommendation turned 5 years old Feb. 8.

The original XML recommendation turned 5 years old Feb. 8 (go to www.eweek.com/links to see the original specification).

I caught up with Dave Hollander, a member of the original group that hashed out the specification. The group also included Tim Bray, Jon Bosak and Michael Sperberg McQueen, among others. (See eWeek Labs interview with Jon Bosak, Page 31.)

"The essence of what makes XML unique in the world is that it makes data ubiquitous," said Hollander, now chief technology officer of Contivo, a company that has a design solution for integrating business applications. "People can move data between a variety of applications, and it works because the XML specification is straightforward."

Growing complexity is a big threat to XMLs development, Hollander said. As a result of "feature creep," the spec is in danger of fraying, leaving information isolated and, in effect, re-creating the problem that Hollander and others set out to solve.

"We had very modest goals for XML when we started. The growth in popularity and our ability to build something that so many people could use has been very exciting," said Hollander. His fear, however, is that the W3C wont be able to fend off development efforts that could make XML the domain of an elite few.