The Beginnings of XML
As the Internet emerged and rapidly became a viable place to conduct business, commu-nicate, and entertain, it became apparent that the need to exchange data in an open man-ner was still unmet. SGML provided a solution for exchanging data in a structured, standardized manner, but it was inappropriate for direct application on the Internet. HTML was a pure-Internet approach for displaying and presenting information in a plat-form-independent manner, but it was wholly inadequate for representing data structures. EDI had proven its merit in conducting electronic business transactions but was ill-suited to being exchanged on the Internet and lacked the sophisticated features of either HTML or SGML. It was obvious something more was needed.
In this environment, an initiative led Jon Bosak and supported by a group of SGML and industry notables, including Tim Bray, C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, Jean Paoli, and James Clark, sought to take some of the best features of SGML and “put them on the Web.” Their goal was to take the standard, generalized manner for marking up data and extend it with metadata while stripping out all the complexities and optional features that made SGML too difficult to implement. On top of that, the new language would be designed inherently for the Internet and have the support of the Internet’s top standards-setting body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Originally called Web SGML, this new language was later named the Extensible Markup Language (XML) .
Note: A great history of XML in Jon Bosak’s own words can be found at http:// java.sun.com/xml/birth_of_xml.html.