Cover ERCIM News 53

This issue in pdf
(60 pages; 9,6 Mb)

Cover ERCIM News 52
previous issue
(Number 52
January 2003):
Special theme:
Embedded Systems

all previous issues

Next issue:
July 2003

Next Special theme:
Applications and Platforms for the Mobile User

About ERCIM News

Valid HTML 4.01!

< Contents ERCIM News No. 53, April 2003

News from W3C

XML Fifth Birthday

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) celebrated the fifth birthday on 10 February 2003. XML was first published as a W3C Recommendation on 10 February 1998. Since its first introduction, the Extensible Markup Language has become pervasive nearly everywhere that information is managed. With its companion and follow-on specifications, XML has changed not only the way people publish documents on the Web but also the way people manage information internal to their enterprise. Dave Hollander and C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, participants in the W3C XML Working Group who wrote the original twenty- five page XML specification, write about XML's growth in an article at The authors believe, "Just as interchangeable parts drove the Industrial Age, reusable information powers the Information Age."

Liam Quin, W3C XML Activity Lead noted:
The earliest customers of the XML standardization process were, for the most part, technical writers: people working on using and publishing technical documentation and doing large-scale document engineering. They wanted to deliver richer content to their customers, and they wanted to do it on the World Wide Web.

The move to richer markup for documents has been slow in coming, but XML and XHTML support in most modern web browsers is helping to increase momentum.

What many of us hoped for, but perhaps did not dare to expect, was that XML would take off as a general-purpose format for structured textual information. In fact, XML has become a part of general computing infrastructure.

Applications of XML range from configuration files through to remote procedure calls, from desktop menu definitions to chat protocols. With every new usage of XML, the value of all the interoperable XML tools, both proprietary and open source, is increased. As the value of the tools increases, so does the value of XML itself.

Five years ago, if you suggested to a programmer that a configuration file be stored in SGML, you'd probably have got either a blank stare or a hostile reaction. Today, XML is used by the GNOME desktop on Linux, by the Jabber chat protocol, and is even central to the upcoming release of Microsoft Office. We've made it. We're mainstream.

Of particular interest on the World Wide Web is the success of XSLT, the XML way of transforming documents. This XML-based language has proved useful as a glue, as middleware, connecting among other things databases, text documents, web servers, web browsers and styles. It's also finding a place as part of Web services, helping to process business transactions.

Two early design decisions with XML were to minimize the number of optional features, and to require strict error checking. The result of these decisions has been that there is a very high degree of interoperability between tools. Another decision was to use Unicode as the document character set: work on accessibility and internationalization are helping to make the World Wide Web truly a place for all people.
In the past five years XML has gone from an obscure format for technical manuals to a central part not just of the World Wide Web but of modern computing and business. The World Wide Web Consortium continues to provide a leading role in guiding this free and universal technology towards maturity.

Last W3C Recommendations

  • Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.1 Specification
  • Mobile SVG Profiles: SVG Tiny and SVG Basic
  • Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 HTML Specification.

An exhaustive list of W3C Recommendations is available at:

Hadden Award for Judy Brewer

Judy Brewer received the Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Award 'for pioneering efforts in telecommunications and consumer access' from the Alliance for Public Technology (APT) in Washington, DC, USA on 21 February 2003. The award recognizes those who continue Hadden's legacy of ensuring equitable access to technology as a democratizing principle. Judy Brewer is Director of W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). For more information about the WAI, see

W3C Days in Beijing

A two-day presentation of W3C will be held in Beijing 16-17 April 2003. Attendees of the China International Forum on WWW's Development can participate in panels on accessibility, SVG, mobile Web, the Semantic Web, VoiceXML and internationalization. The event is co-organized by the China Computer Federation and the W3C Office in Hong Kong.


The International World Wide Web Conference, this year to be held in Budapest, Hungary (see announcement on page 54), provides a public forum for the W3C through the annual W3C Track. Speakers from W3C, including Tim Berners-Lee, present W3C Activities and recent developments.