Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Does XML have a future on the web?

I’m attending the XML 2007 Conference in Boston – sitting in on a plenary session entitled “Does the XML have a future on the web?” What I hope to share with you is a debate between two interesting and intriguing trains of thought for consideration of publishing not only your church’s website, but also sermons, Bible Studies, weekly calendars and other information your charitable organization needs to distribute.

Doug Crawford of YahooOne one side, sporting the bearded guru’s view, is Doug Crockford of Yahoo whose response to the insecurities of HTML, Jason and DOM – and whose apparent frustration with XML’s built-in hostility towards traditional programming and database management – has given us the specification known as JSON or JavasScript Object Notation.

C. M. Sperberg-McQueenIn the mustache only camp is C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, a member of W3C technical staff who asserts that since the Web is for everyone, and because loose coupling and multiple format distribution from a single source are more desired than “fashion” and “delivery speed” that XML will only die when … and I quote “… rip it out of [his] cold dead hands.

After both individuals gave their opposite opinions – with some in-the middle interjection by Michael Day of YesLogic – what ensued was some impassioned questions from those attending the conference. The responses by both Mr. Crawford and Sperberg-McQueen were equally animated.

Mostly what I heard from the floor was frustration over the complexity of XML. Crockford took that opportunity to point out how JSON more closely reflect the programmer’s perview. I agree. Sperberg-McQueen pointing out how now modern day browsers now support XHTML + XSLT. I’ll add to this that one only need visit a FeedBurner RSS feed to see this in action.

When I posed my question how all this fits in to the Software as a Service paradigm, Mr. Crockford enumerated all of the insecurities of AJAX that have become a concern for many developing online applications in an enterprise architecture. Sperberg-McQueen jabbed back with JSON’s eval equates to an equally insecure solution (to XML). Neither answered my question “what do I tell my clients who tell ask me ‘why don’t I go out and get Web 2.0’ … as if it is a product I can purchase off-the-shelf?”

Neither really answered the question – because the real problem with both JSON and XML as I see it are FREE TOOLS that make it mindlessly easy for the average church secretary to publish a sermon. The same frustration I heard/felt with many of the developers in the audience.

More later, but feel free to pitch in with your opinions.

One Comment

  1. FREE online tools are an empowering gift to the world. They are leveling the playing field in just about every arena.

    I’m an educator who has embraced the Read/Write web because of the wonderful power of the free Web 2.0 tools that are proliferating. Some of these tools facilitate professional collaboration and professional development. Best of all, many of these tools are creating the opportunity for learners without strong traditional academic skills to succeed in school. No matter how much frustration they cause developers, they just won’t go away.

    There are far too many otherwise smart students who fail in school because: they aren’t good at processing words coming at them from the front of a room, they aren’t good at processing written words, and they aren’t good at taking tests. Online applications that facilitate digital storytelling illustrate a powerfully motivating way to engage students who have previously failed in school and give them alternative means of representing their learning.

    I’m an educator who blogs, regularly creates and uses wikis, networks via Twitter, promotes the use of interactive online educational resources, etc. I’m completely frustrated that my church has no vision for using any of these tools. I’m frustrated that our pastors and church leaders mostly have strong academic skills, so they expect the folks in their pews to be like them. We now have tools to help engage and reach many people who have been left cold by the traditional approaches of the church. Just think about the infinite range of possibilities with digital storytelling alone!