Re: [xsl] [possibly off topic] Adoption Rates and Future

Subject: Re: [xsl] [possibly off topic] Adoption Rates and Future
From: Wendell Piez <wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:57:35 -0400

At the outset let me remark that the question Hank asks is very much on topic, inasmuch as the strategic outlook for XML technologies very much implicates XSL and XSLT.

I'll also affirm Mike's counter-questions and hesitations.

Yet also, I think it's important to keep in mind that while XML/XSLT is firmly embedded in the stack, as Mike remarks, nevertheless there's frequently (and even "normally") something different about XML/XSLT-based solutions such as, I imagine, the application Hank built at his last job. These are not just off-the-shelf technologies addressing a greatest-common-factor set of requirements, as is more commonly the case for automated information processing systems (most especially those that get press). XML systems in their pure form (that is, when XML isn't just being used as an application file format, but is a design focus in itself) are to a greater or lesser extent always customized, customizable, "bespoke" technologies. This is even the case when it isn't -- as, for example, in successful community-based "standard" XML technologies such as DITA, which maintain significant capability for this even when they're used out of the box.

This isn't to say that LAMP-based development isn't also custom development. But HTML/CSS is used in such projects, typically, as a given. Semantic labeling may be used as a means to an end in some ways (such as for driving CSS), and some effort may be made in a database to fit data structures to specific information processing requirements (though even there it will often be cookie-cutter). But XML permits adaptability at a much more profound and fundamental level.

Because of this I suspect XML/XSLT will always be unnecessary, and frequently mysterious, to customers who are happier with what they can get shrink-wrapped, having no need or interest in fitting their data set to their problem domain beyond tinkering with a database. And that's okay: if working with their information in a media-centric rather than content-centric way does the job for them, who's complaining? This doesn't mean that the usefulness of XML/XSLT will ever go away (until, that is, it is subsumed into something even more capable).

And this speaks also to the difficulty of making a list of successful applications of XML. Many of the most successful, I dare say, won't even be known in public: they are too far in back, doing important work for people who don't necessarily want to share their means and methods.

If this sounds paradoxical (because XML is so powerful and so open, it is going to be secret), it is. Lists can be made, but they probably aren't going to be very impressive to those who never look past lists.


On 11/2/2011 5:16 PM, Michael Kay wrote:
You seem to be asking three separate questions.

In the title of your post, you allude to the extent to which the
technology is adopted and how this might change over time. But you don't
really explain how the body of your post relates to this question, nor
do you give any data about the level of adoption or how this is
changing. Which is wise, because there is no hard data, and
extrapolating from the morsels of data we have (such as google search
trends) is probably very unreliable.

Then you tell us an anecdote about (if I read it right) a company that
is having trouble recruiting. Well, there could be a million reasons for
that; I'm not sure what we are supposed to read into this story.

Finally you ask for a list of XML applications. Well, you might collect
some, though again, good information is notoriously hard to come by.
Very few of the projects I have consulted to over the years have made
anything public or visible about the fact that their systems are based
very largely on XML.

Different people will see what's happening from different perspectives
and draw different conclusions; every one of them is seeing a tiny part
of the total picture. From my perspective, what I see is that XML (and
with it XSLT) is now a mature technology that is deeply embedded in the
infrastructure, that is doing a very useful job, and that no longer has
any great novelty or fashion appeal.

Michael Kay

On 02/11/2011 19:54, Hank Ratzesberger wrote:

Please forgive me if this is off topic, or point me to another list,
(or just ignore)

At a previous job, I built a application/website that for the most
part was
entirely scripted in XML -- eXist database, XSTLT, XForms. Having moved
on, they could not find much interest in filling the job and likely the
application will get ported to "LAMP" with limited features and the
job role more of a data analyst.

Having built an entirely open source (and free) application using W3C
standards with several excellent books for training and helpful mailing
lists, I am wondering why there should be any lack of interest, though
granted the university system has some challenges hiring from the
private sector when it comes to IT.

Perhaps it isn't clear the XML is a technology stack, not simply a
file format. When sitting on J2EE applications, it is using the Java
character encoding, real number and date handling -- I18N and
various floating point issues are consistently handled.

Is there a good list of XML/XSLT/etc. based applications? Where
can reference as examples that use the technology?

Thank you,

Wendell Piez                            mailto:wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.      
17 West Jefferson Street                    Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
Suite 207                                          Phone: 301/315-9631
Rockville, MD  20850                                 Fax: 301/315-8285
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