Thursday, June 16, 2005

XML Uber Alles

XML, the eXtensible Markup Language:
  1. separates content from presentation
  2. moves structured data across the Web

XML is:

  • platform independent
  • totally textual
  • structured
  • totally extensible
  • an open standard
  • language independent
  • web enabled
Given the feature list above, is it any wonder why XML has achieved such rapid, universal support from virtually every corner of the IT industry?

XML is the lifeblood of web services. It's literally the technology that has enabled SOA to emerge at this time as a viable way of doing distributed computing. Because it's totally textual, XML messages can pass freely through the same magic Port 80 that lets HTML traffic move back and forth between web browsers and servers.

Want proof XML is now uber alles?

First, just to make sure everyone understands what I'm saying, uber alles comes from German etymology. According to Merriam-Webster, it means above everything else.

Mary Jo Foley of Microsoft Watch recently reported in her June 1, 2005 column, "Office 12 to Get New File Formats," that Microsoft is making XML-based file formats the default in its next-generation Office suite due to ship in the latter half of 2006.

The new Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats will be designated as .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx, respectively. Microsoft is referring to the family of new formats as "Microsoft Office Open XML Formats."

Microsoft is committing to publish the forthcoming XML formats and make them available under the same royalty-free license that exists for the Office 2003 Reference Schemas -- openly offered and available for broad industry use. Licensees will be able to integrate these formats into their servers, applications and business processes "without financial consideration to Microsoft."

For users of older versions of Office -- specifically Office 2000, Office 2003 and Office XP -- Microsoft will make available software downloads that will allow them to read, edit and save using the new file formats.

Distinct from the binary-based file format that has been a mainstay of past Office versions, the new Office XML Formats are compact, robust file formats that enable better data integration between documents and back-end systems. Microsoft is promising that the new formats, which will make use of industry-standard ZIP compression technology, will allow users to create much smaller files requiring less byte space.

For additional information, see Microsoft's preview announcement: "Microsoft Office Open XML Formats Overview".


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