David G. Durand (
Tue, 6 Apr 1999 19:54:42 -0400

At 6:11 PM -0400 4/6/99, Jim Whitehead wrote:
>The first glimpse I've seen of the XML produced by O2K is in this article.
>It doesn't look pretty -- I'm hoping the article just screwed up in
>transcribing the XML.

Don't bet on it. This is exactly what I've been expecting MS to do with
XML. While I don't rule out nefarious scheming, I suspect that the real
problem is just that word-processor people find the notion of generic
markup really weird. It's a matter of primary focus: if you spend all your
time formatting and thinking of that as the primary goal, abstracting away
from it seems pointless.

I remember talking to the Interleaf people about SGML integration in the
mid-80's. Very smart folks, but they never figured it out. Some years later
when they started to try to handle SGML because they didn't have a choice
anymore, they were crippled by an architecture fundamentally oriented to
bits on a page.

When I read that article, I thought "RTF in XML, just what I've been
expecting for more than a year now." Even if it's not an idea thing, it may
be related to code inertia. Does anyone know what percentage of MS-Word
code is currently frozen due to age and lack of anyone who understands it?
I've heard that it used to be a significant number, and those numbers don't
tend to shrink without major pain. RTF in XML may be about as good as can
be done if the guts of the program are closely linked to the formatting,
and that's not such a bad bet.

I don't worry about this at all though, because that's really useless XML
for any of the XML benefits, and people who want to use XML will figure out
that O2K is irrelevant to XML creation. People who just want to format word
documents will at least have a well-defined syntax as opposed to the
hacked-up vileness of RTF. Whether the semantics will be any better defined
is anyone's guess, but I wouldn't be very hopeful about that either.

-- David
David Durand \
Boston University Computer Science \ Sr. Analyst \ Dynamic Diagrams
MAPA: mapping for the WWW \__________________________