The Information Age of the 20th Century was great, but the Digital Age of our new Millennium can be even better — that is, if you can find what you're looking for.
The Internet and the Web get most of the glory, but without an ever-growing cast of supporting standards, they would be a far poorer place to explore. One of the most fundamental of those unsung standards is XML.
Before there were electronic documents, information could only be gathered by hand from multiple sources, and then combined into new documents that in turn became static. The same would be true for electronic documents today, if it weren't for the Extensible Markup Language and the seemingly endless stream of derivative languages it has made possible.
Thirteen years ago, XML went from concept to first draft in just 20 weeks. Since then, it has brought order to untold millions of documents around the globe. In this interview, XML Co-Editor Tim Bray talks about how XML came to be, what it has become, and how we'll share information on the Web in the future.
Some things never seem to change. One is the desire of some vendors to conquer the world through the use of proprietary standards, rather than share even greater wealth by using open ones. Another one is that this strategy rarely works for long.
What exactly did software programmers do before there was software to program? The similarity of open source software to jazz provides a clue.