In Does XML Schema Earn its Keep? I argued that XML schema was of little use in validating HL7 messages and document, and an obstacle to adopting other, more concise syntaxes. In his comments on my post and subsequent emails Graham Grieve made an excellent case for looking at the business of producing messages and driving tooling. I have to agree with him that for the current state of RIM-based standards XML schema is a necessary ingredient.
There was a time — and apparently it still is the time — when XML is the way to roll with the industry in terms of adaptability to existing tooling.
I was partly projecting onto XML itself my disaffection for the HL7 style of using XML.
However, as Graham has pointed out in The XML consensus is breaking down XML has not worked out to be the panacea we all hoped, wedding the data, text and object-oriented worlds. In the early years it offered one promise and delivered — it was a syntax that IBM, Oracle and Microsoft would agree on. That has been a great step forward.
Like most steps forward, once we have achieved it we begin to say “what have you done for me lately?” It appears to me that we are in a state across the IT industry where XML is becoming the “old technology” and people are waiting for a new trend that fixes some of the problems.
What will the new panacea be? I would like to believe that the work being done in JSON now, like the early work in XML circa the year 2000, will be at the heart of whatever develops.
But as Graham suggests what is needed is more than a simpler syntax.
For now I guess we’ll plod along with XML and XML schema and keep an eye on the nascent use new technologies.
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