Speedy Adoption Expected

Companies have geared up for schema; tools shield users from complexity.

When XML was introduced, although there were early adopters, it still took about a year before Extensible Markup Language began to be regularly used in enterprise-level applications and deployments. Now that XML Schema is a standard, the waiting period for its adoption should be much shorter.

Part of this can be attributed to how long businesses have been waiting for this schema. Many have been working on tools and compatibility issues while the standard was under development. However, it is also due in part to the complexity of the schema. Whereas the initial XML standard could be easily built and managed by anyone with an editor, many vendors plan to provide new tools to help shield users from the size and complexity of XSD (XML Schema Definition).

Given the importance of XML Schema for handling data-driven communications among businesses, eWeek Labs recommends that developers begin evaluating tools that will help them move to XSD. In addition, companies should find out what their enterprise software vendors plans are for supporting and integrating with XML Schema.

As is true of most standards, many of the initial sets of XML Schema tools are essentially validators that help developers stay within the standard. Several are from individual World Wide Web Consortium members and universities, but some are also available from vendors such as IBM, and Java-based validators are available from Sun Microsystems Inc.

Convert the Content

another important set of tools for businesses moving to XML Schema are conversion tools, which will help developers convert content to the new standard. Probably the most important will be tools for converting standard XML DTDs (Document Type Definitions) to XSD, although some of those currently available have not been updated to the final standard. There are also tools for converting files from other schema languages, including a tool from Microsoft Corp. for converting files from XML Data Reduced to XSD.

Although conversion tools will be useful for developers, the first contact many businesses will have with XML Schema, much as with XML itself, will be when the products they use every day simply begin to use XSD internally.

Microsoft recently released betas of MSXML and SQLXML that support the schema and has said that most of its products will support XSD in their next versions. Sun has released a new XML data types library that supports the final XML Schema standard, and Tibco Software Inc. includes tools for validating documents using XSD.

Besides validators and other tools, IBM has broad XML support throughout its suite of products, and even Lotus Development Corp.s Notes includes a tool kit for using XSD within Domino. In addition, most open-source projects, such as the Apache Software Foundation, have been working on integrating with and using the XML Schema standard.