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Have we had enough XML specs yet already? -- Don Box at XML conference

[MARCH 11, 2003/ADT'S PROGRAMMERS REPORT] - [MARCH 4, 2003 -- Santa Clara, Calif.] -- In a keynote yesterday at the XML Web Services One Conference, SOAP co-author Don Box advised XML developers to read less specs, write more apps and less code, and to remember that humans matter.

While proffering advice, Box, who joined Microsoft over a year ago as a technical evangelist, counted himself as among those who have made XML more complex than it needs to be.

In terms of writing specs, ''I am guilty of being very prolific,'' he admitted.

''There are countless specifications in this area,'' added Box. ''It takes nothing to create a spec, and even less to put 'WS' in front of it and make it look official. It means nothing unless people use it,'' he noted. ''Specs are like bodily orifices,'' he quipped, ''everyone has one.''

He continued, ''What matters is people writing software that uses XML. If the spec doesn’t get you closer to that, it’s not that relevant.''

Box did not spare Microsoft in his analysis, either. ''There are specs from Microsoft that will never be implemented,'' he said. ''But in terms of specifications, I think we are near the end.''

He said that his work as a developer at Microsoft focuses on creating tools that allow developers to produce more XML-based solutions while writing less code. Writers should focus on end-use application, he said, and these need not all center around Web services.

''A lot of people think Web services are the ultimate use of XML. There’s a lot more you can do with XML,'' said Box.

When authors create XML specs that are too complex, fewer programmers will embrace XML, Box indicated. He recalled that one of XML’s first initial selling points was that it was ''human readable.''

''There are some things humans should never know,'' he joked, referring to SOAP Specification Section 5, one he himself 'had his fingers on.

''If people understand it, if it has use by humans, it will succeed,'' said Box.

''XML is a big tent,'' he concluded, and there is room for everyone.

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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