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The XML Family
of Technologies
41
T
HE
XML F
AMILY OF
T
ECHNOLOGIES
Executive Summary
XML celebrated its fifth birthday in early 2003. In this brief period it has become a
major force in the world of information management. As well as changing the ways in
which Web content is arranged and delivered, XML has revolutionised the ways in which
organisations store and transfer their internal communications.The first mainstream Web
browser to support XML was Internet Explorer 5.0 in March 1999; now the most recent
versions of all Internet browsers support the format. As further proof of XML's rise to
near-ubiquity, approximately eighty per cent of W3C specifications since 1998 have been
XML-related.
33
So much has been written and said about XML that it would be easy to imagine that
it is the instant saviour of all things technological.
34
This is, of course, not so.While pow-
erful, XML is not a solution in itself, but a new way of approaching content structuring
and reuse. In isolation, an XML file does very little, but it is through the combination of
XML with dedicated `helper' utilities that its power can be harnessed
Given a little forethought, XML can act as a resource-saving utility. Content can be
stored centrally in one format, presented as XML, and repurposed/delivered as an organ-
isation's various needs dictate. XML scales well, and early XML documents can easily be
ported into cutting-edge applications and display systems, as well as augmented to allow
for increased functionality and utility.The uses to which XML can be put in the reuse
and repurposing of content are substantial.
The extensive breadth and depth of the subject area makes producing an overview dif-
ficult; the already extended family of XML specifications
continues to grow, and an in-depth analysis of the whole
family would require book-length coverage.
35
We do not
aim to provide such a broad and detailed overview.The
provenance and essentials of XML are outlined in brief,
and then related technologies that are likely to be of the
most relevance to the cultural heritage community are
described.The bulk of this section is devoted to
accounts of XML deployment in this sector, featuring
case studies on the Pouce and COVAX projects, to name
but two.These are followed by sketches of potential
future uses of the technology in memory institutions
and academic research
The section concludes with a description of the chal-
lenges that introducing XML and related technologies
33
Source: Kenneth Sall, The XML Family of Specifications. A Practical
Guide (Addison Wesley, 2002), p. 19.
34
The satirical `XML Kitchen Sink' specification addresses such
hyperbole: http://blogspace.com/xkitchensink/
35
Such treatment is provided in books such as Kenneth Sall's XML
Family of Specifications. A Practical Guide, to which much
reference has been made in the preparation of this report.
T
heGlasgowStory and Glasgow School of Art Ar
chiv
e
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