IDC bills XML as ‘next big thing'

IDC bills XML as ‘next big thing'

With many Australian Web developers considering adopting eXtensible Markup Language (XML) in the near future, fresh predictions from International Data Corp (IDC) bill the Internet markup language as the new "Lingua-Franca of the Web".

XML extends the data capabilities of Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), and IDC predicts it is set to play a key role in e-business development.

Unlike HTML, XML:l Is extensible, making it possible to define your own tagsl Covers content aspects and is therefore suitable for explicit enquiriesl Allows a native database, making storage and retrieval of data extremely fast.

The Australian Web development community is not rushing to embrace the new technology, but most developers concede it will be a valuable tool in the long term.

"I don't think it will replace HTML, but it will be very valuable for lots of things," said Derek Chan, director of interactive imaging company realview technologies. "That includes B2B transactions, contents indication and databases. We're not using it at this stage, but we possibly will for our database. In the future we will probably be storing and deploying in XML."In mid 1999, IDC conducted a survey where 167 respondents responsible for major software development projects in organisations across Australia, China, India and Singapore were asked about the importance of XML over the next three years.

The results indicated that 47 per cent thought XML would be "important" to "critically important", while the same survey in the US showed the result to be close to 70 per cent.

Karl Veidis, managing director of Sydney-based Webolution Internet Engineering, says his company is considering using XML, but currently there is not enough demand from customers to warrant it.

He warns that XML won't catch on unless there is a compelling reason for companies to use it and until there is a critical mass of skilled programmers.

"The reason why there is less likelihood of XML taking off quickly is because of the learning curve," comments Veidis. "The technical expertise is only so deep, especially in Australia. People have come to terms with Web sites, etc, because a lot of it is reasonably familiar. While Active Server Pages look a lot like Visual Basic and Java looks and feels like C++, XML is a bit of mental leap (although not a huge one). I think it will be about 18 months before XML takes off."

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