CNET has an interesting article from 2003 on the 5-year anniversary of XML’s approval by W3C. The article compiles some thoughts from various industry leaders and programmers about XML after its first five years as a W3C standard. The article also poses some dream scenarios that XML and web services might foster in the coming years. Surprisingly, now over twelve years after XML’s entrance (and 7 years since that article), some of the issues and concerns raised by this article remain.
Jon Bosak, the Engineer that led the World Wide Web Consortium group that created XML, voiced his concerns in this article about the fact that XML is not the end-all to data interoperability. XML is a great tool for this, but is useless without the proper systems in place on both ends of the data exchange (and any and all points between). Although an ever increasing percentage of business are moving towards centralized databases and the use of data and metadata that is easily and often converted to XML for transport, there still remains a large minority of information systems reliant upon technologies that do not support XML. Granted, these systems are typically outdated, but that does not change the fact that various information systems are still in use today that can not send or receive XML data. The existence of these systems creates a barrier for data interoperability.
What this article fails to mention, however, is possible contention to XML’s throne. With a strong focus on how web services drives the use and need for XML, none of the twelve interviewees likely foresaw JSON’s presence in this arena. AJAX heavy environments have overtaken many of the web services and applications of today, and thus fostered JSON’s growth. However, the end goal and ideology of these XML pioneers remains in tact today – easy and pain free data exchange between applications and services. Even with a strong alternative for web applications in JSON, XML remains the primary format for the exchange of data among applications, and will likely remain that way (in its current or an updated state) for the next twelve years.