XML, Age 10

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Every once in a while, it's important for those of us who depend on IT but don't do the actual programming to get down into the technical weeds -- at least a little bit -- to maintain a basic grasp of the more granular issues that can make or break a project. That time is here for XML, which recently celebrated its tenth birthday.


For starters, XML has been warmly embraced by IBM, still the only vendor that can legitimize a technology with a single press release. And of course, Oracle, Microsoft and the open source community all have at least one foot in the XML camp.


At the recent IDEAlliance conference, there was plenty of evidence of just how far the original 27-page XML spec has come. One prominent example is the emergence of hybrid databases that allow XML and SQL to peacefully coexist.


The future, however, is not totally rosy for XML. It has an important challenger in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON, pronounced like "Jason"). JSON has a smaller over-the-network payload and imposes less of a burden on CPUs, because it eliminates the need to parse XML. JSON is also transportation-independent, which has important technical benefits in some use cases.


The net of the situation: XML continues to gain traction despite its technical drawbacks.