Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thought Experiments

Thought Experiments>Tim Bray has some interesting thoughts on the new Office XML formats. One of the key elements here is backwards compatibility. Microsoft over the years has gone to amazing lengths to preserve backwards compatibility in its products, at the cost of simplicity. It still seems to be a weak argument in this case for including that in the new XML format- even though there are billions of legacy word documents, that doesn't mean they should be in the new format. It's far easier to build support for the old formats into the new Office suite and support for the new formats as a plugin to the old Office suite.

Still, the question of whether Microsoft or OASIS have come up with the better format is a fair one. However, that should be evaluated on the basis of features and performance, not by who came up with it. The idea Tim has of getting them to agree on the basics is good one. It reminds me of how KML uses the basic GML standard for points, while putting it's own structure around it.

XML does allow for sharing the common bits with namespaces. Maybe the world should switch to RelaxNG... another great OASIS standard. Then we might be able to know what we are doing. With XML Schema, all too often, the meaning is obfuscated by the syntax.