XML: Why You Should Care

The folks at O’Reilly Media have created an excellent blog around their ToC (Tools of Change for Publishing) meme and event. As part of that, they are running a series called StartWithXML that has some excellent material on the topic of XML and publishing.

One of the first posts in the StartWithXML project is entitled Why You Should Care About XML by Andrew Savikas, with whom I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at the Gilbane conference in San Francisco a few months back. Excerpt:

But there are several reasons why it’s really really important for publishers to start paying attention to XML right now, and across their entire workflow:

  • XML is here to stay, for the reasonably forseeable future. While it’s always dangerous to attempt to predict expiration dates on technology, I think it’s fair to assume XML will have a shelf life at least as long as ASCII, which has been with us for more than 40 years, and isn’t going anywhere soon.
  • Web publishing and print publishing are converging, and writing and production for print will be much more influenced by the Web than vice-versa. It will only get harder to succeed in publishing without putting the Web on par with (or ahead of) print as the primary target. The longer you wait to get that content into Web-friendly and re-usable XML, the worse.

Many in publishing balk at bringing XML “up the stack” to the production, editing, or even the authoring stage. And with good reason; XML isn’t really meant to be created or edited by hand (though a nice feature is that in a pinch it easily can be). There are two places to look for useful clues about how XML will actually fit into a publisher’s workflow: Web publishing and the “alpha geeks.”

He then goes on to examining both web publishing and alpha geek behavior in order to provide a lay of the future publishing land. See the post for more.

O’Reilly is also hosting a StartWithXML one-day forum in New York City on 1/13/09 at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium.

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