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Sun & Microsoft Square Off With XML Standards 173

Chris Gardner writes "ZDNet has an interesting and informative article on the upcoming battle between XML standards proposed by Sun and Microsoft. Microsoft's standards lie at the heart of their .NET initiative."
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Sun & Microsoft Square Off With XML Standards

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  • I thought XML already had a standard definition. There are a few rules, and you include a DTD to interpret any particular implementation of XML.

    The company I'm presently working at has been using a specific implementation of XML for communication between servers, and they owe nothing to MSFT or Sun because of it. What exactly have these two companies done? I find the article vague at best. Have they provided XML interpreters? I doubt it, because there are too many ways that XML can be used for one interpreter to do it all.

    If anyone can shed some light on this, I'd appreciate it.
  • Really, XML technology is so new I don't believe either or any XML standard or framework is established yet. In my experience with manufacturing and warehousing operations I've found that a surprisingly large number of them are still stuck on some expensive, proprietary VAX or IBM mainframe application that talks to nothing else, or even stick to pure paper systems. I've seen office assistants print off reports from the VAX and HAND TYPE the results into Excel to do sorts, calculations, graphs and so on--ridiculous!

    What some people seem to lose sight of is that the whole concept of XML is extremely new if you can manage to see it from the perspective of everyone except geeks. The market for ebXML or BizTalk is almost completely untapped and too immature to make pronouncements on what will be in the future. Even Microsoft and IBM know that--while they are the prime backers of BizTalk, take a look under "I" and "M" in the ebXML List of Participants [ebxml.org]. That's right, there are contingents from both of them. How's that for hedging your bets?
  • This 'battle' between computer giants Sun and Microsoft is a classic example of why people do business. There is nothing inherently wrong with competing standard (PCS vs. GSM, Dollard vs. Euro, etc.), only when the competition erodes intellectual growth does it become bad. People are in business typically to do two things:

    1)Provide a product, service, etc.
    2)Do this in order to make a profit (or break-even in cases on non-profits and the like).

    With Microsoft releasing things like C# and its .NET initiative as a way of unifying content, connectivity, and collaboration (3 C's!) and Sun feeling it has a viable alternative, competition is then fostered. From this, in theory at least, better opportunities and lower costs await the end-user/consumer.

    Why the media seeks to villify either side or bring the avergage Joe fear of big brother is somewhat irresponsible. Anywho, if you guys want to poke my little case full of hole's I'd be delighted, seriosuly, let me see where I think I know more than I do. Peace.

  • XML is useless if people can't agree on context. By actively working to break standards MS is seeking to destroy any value XML may have. If I have to write a different parser for evey vendor who want's to communicate with me why not just use delimited files or something less bloated and complicated.
  • by baka_boy ( 171146 ) <lennon.day-reynolds@com> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @10:39PM (#562276) Homepage
    You cannot make a dialect of XML dependent on a particular application, database server, or programming language -- at least, if you want anyone else to be able to parse it, validate it, etc. That's the appeal of XML in a nutshell. Yes, Microsoft may only directly support the generation of that type of XML through the newest version of BackOffice/.NET/SQL Server, but if there's a DTD or schma for it out there, I (or any other programmer at all familiar with XML technologies) can parse it, generate new documents that follow it, etc.

    --- begin rant mode ---

    Personally, the only reason that I give Oracle any more slack than Microsoft is that their software basically does what it's supposed to, reliably and consistently. Now, if you try to run any medium to large-scale Oracle database on an OS other than Solaris, you're probably in for some major headaches, but it can be done. As a business entity, though, Oracle is just as bitchy, proprietary, and overpriced as Microsoft, and they are just as happy to run over anything that stands in the way of their total market domination. Just a bunch of good capitalists, I suppose, but not great at instilling warm fuzzies in me.

    --- end rant mode ---

    There's nothing that ties an XML schema to a particular database or OS, except the laziness of programmers and managers; if you need to implement that B2B communications tool today, you're probably going to go with the tool that (at least in theory) allows you to do it without reinventing the wheel. From a business point of view, if Microsoft offers tools that let you do that without risking a screwup by one of your programmers, then their solution seems very attractive.

    In all reality, both of these companies are highly involved in the creation of XML standards largely because that's how the W3C and the rest of the Internet business community want it; the whole idea of the period between Candidate Recommendation and Recomendation status at the W3C is a sort of trial period for software companies (read: big, influental software companies) to attempt implementation of a new 'standard', and give the group feedback on what areas worked, what areas gave them major headaches, etc. Think of it as popular approval from the business world, where market share means everything.

    Why do you think XML has taken off for business messaging and rapid application development, while the really cool XML applications like SVG and RDF, though they've been bouncing around for years, have yet to get the kind of major industry support they need to reach success? There's no incentive for the big players (Sun, MS, IBM, et. al.) to spend their time working on things that would primarily benefit consumers, academics, and the Internet community as a whole when they could be making the "next big thing" for businesses.

  • Did anyone else notice that the proposed "standard" by Microsoft will require SQL server 2000? At the bottom of the article it is explained that SQL server is required to implement Microsoft's proposed "standard".

    The actual 'standard' doesn't require SQL Server 2000; BizTalk Server requires SQL Server 2000.

  • by The Mayor ( 6048 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @11:26AM (#562278)
    Hmm... A few examples from the XML world come to mind. XSL (MS has the patent, but has agreed to allow anyone to use it for free, and turned it over to W3C). XML Schemas (another MS invention that is now in the hands of W3C). SOAP (again...).

    Look, MS has a long history of being the bad guys in a lot of areas. But XML is not one of those areas.

    XML has some real deficiencies dealing with large binary data (I do a lot of work in the oil industry with seismic data, where a single data set can be hundreds of gigabytes). MS is trying to address this area, too, along with IBM (SOAP). Yeah, they're going to push the envelope with XML. If they didn't, we wouldn't have XSL and XML Schemas today. And if we were talking about any issue other than XML, I'd say this is probably a bad thing. But they have a real commitment in the XML world towards open standards bodies (W3C). Take it for face value. It's a good thing, for once...
  • Actually, you are incorrect. HTML can be expressed as XML with the correct DTD. If HTML is based on SGML and XML is a subset of SGML, then it's entirely possible that HTML can be expressed in either SGML or XML, assuming HTML only uses features common to both. Since HTML can be expressed with XML, I guess this is the case. Good try, though.
  • Not excatly true.

    One of the really neat parts of XML is the opportunity to split up the data and the presentation. An obvious way to do this is couple an XML document with a style sheet (CSS or XSL).

    Ideally HTML should slowly go away!

  • Please MS is notorious for inserting undocumented "features" into just about everything. I wonder how much disk space that damn excel flight simulator takes up on your hard disk.

    About 65536 bytes - why?

    Simon
  • It's still binary in nature, even if it is encoded. In fact all data are binary. But text and structured text, such as XML, can be interpreted at a higher level with more meaning.
  • Lets see... what would I like to know? Hmm... how about whatever they DIDN'T document in that documentation of theirs?

    Did they bloat the software with a flight sim like they did Excel?

    Does it invite all the people in your address book to download the latest version like MSN Explorer?

    Please MS is notorious for inserting undocumented "features" into just about everything. I wonder how much disk space that damn excel flight simulator takes up on your hard disk.

    If you think that your MSXML SDK docs cover everything that MS has done to "extend" their XML standard beyond it's original specifications, then I feel for you buddy.

  • Well, the article made it appear that BizTalk Server is supposedly up for review as a "standard" solution in it's field. I guess they could have been a little clearer, but I just don't think the words "standard" and Microsoft should be used in the same stenence unless it is explicitly stated that this is considered the "Microsoft Standard", in which case you will ignore all other standards.

  • Quit Posting Crap from ZDNet!!!!


    You might as well post M$ internal memos!


    Dammit, rent a brain! only $45,999USD from Redmond...(single processor only)


    --mandi


    Baaah Humbug! Sheep! [saveoursheep.com]

  • by theMAGE ( 51991 )
    I still fail to see why this article is interesting. It only spends 50% talking about how Microsoft announced a year ago BizTalk and how it will be a year late and then mentions ebXML in half a proposition.

    Why are these two different and what is different and how complicated a bridge between them will be to implement?

    IBM backs SOAP and 50 unnamed companies are already installing it (perhaps like the dummies in a company I know that install service packs beta on the production database and mail servers).

    Who else besides SUN wants ebXML and how many companies are testing it?

    Taco: can we please have a ZDnet checkbox in preferences, please?
  • by Faulty Dreamer ( 259659 ) <.gro.smaerdytluaf. .ta. .remaerd.> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:46AM (#562287) Homepage
    Did anyone else notice that the proposed "standard" by Microsoft will require SQL server 2000? At the bottom of the article it is explained that SQL server is required to implement Microsoft's proposed "standard".

    I'm sorry, but at what point did we decide that all standards should be dependent on Microsoft being able to sell more copies of its software? Something about that just makes me feel dirty. Surely there would be a way to implement it without using SQL server from Microsoft. And if not, will any "standards" group actually accept it?

  • Seeds of this were planted quite some time ago. I noticed when I was first annoyed by the fact that, in Office 2000, if you choose to save a document as html, you get -- presto! xml instead of the crud html that Word 97 produced.

    (No, I don't use Office to produce web documents. But it's occasionally useful as a shortcut when you're STARTING with material originally produced with Office to save it as html and then do a couple of search-and-destroys and search-and-replaces.)

  • Given the demonstrated preferance of Microsoft to enhance their marketing at the expense of quality technology, you can see where all of this is going.

    But seriously, they may come up with something useful.

    I just do not know if I can wait for version 5 of the product for it to be any good. (This based on the old saw of never buy version 1.0 of any product)

    Also, regardless of the marketing spin, software rentals over the net are NOT my idea of a desirable product. I can imagine the tech support lines now:

    "Sorry, but there is a problem with your account."

    Fill in the blank as to what happened.

  • Yeah, they're going to push the envelope with XML. If they didn't, we wouldn't have XSL ...

    We certainly would have XSL. It was created by an American academic working at a Scottish university. When XML first appeared on the horizon back in 1997, I attended an SGML Users Group talk on XML, XSL and the proposed mathematical markup language. If I remember correctly, the academic guy's research was part funded by MS, but the ideas were his.

    The funny thing about that user group meeting was that it descended into a slanging match between the XML proponents and the SGML `elitists'. The latter argued that XML and XSL were pointless when we already have SGML and DSSSL. The fact that DSSSL is poorly documented and poorly supported seems to have escaped them... They also had the same gripe about Cascading Style Sheets, which further proved that they clearly opposed anything that threatened their consultancy fees. If markup languages were made easy for the unwashed masses, it spelled doom for them.


    Chris

  • I don't care HOW they do it. But they had BETTER agree on one damn standard! Hire an arbitrator, i don't care but I am SO freakin tired of having multiple versions of the same "language" out there.

  • Thanks for the numbers. I was curious, and appreciate the answer.
  • Which Netscape is that?

    Netscape 6 PR3 (Windows) and Opera 5 (Windows)
    have no problem with http://www.krezip.com which I recently changed to xHTML 1.0 specification.
    Mainly that involved making tags lowercase and ending tags with /> if they didnt have a corresponding end tag. (e.g.

    or )
    This because xHTML is based on an XML DTD which is more strict than the older non-XML (but nevertheless SGML) HTML DTDs.

    Check http://www.w3c.org

  • You weren't using CORBA five years ago, were you. Because if you were, you'd know precisely how nicely all the proponents of "openness" play together.

    I was there, and it wasn't pretty. IIOP was a good thing but it came far too late.
    --
    Cheers

  • According to this article, it's not that MS and Sun are fighting over the standards for XML -- that's deeply entrenched in the W3C; neither can extend the XML standard without causing serious problems for any third party developer. What they are at odds at is how to deliever XML to end users. From the visions that I've read, the concept of .NET or any massively-XML'ed software set is there will be a server that sits there and passes XML back and forth, and apps will communicate with the server to get the XML data that they need. However, the method by which that XML data is requested and set is what MS and Sun appear to fighting over; MS *seems* to want an HTTP-like functionality, Sun's aiming for a SQL-like one. From anyone writing third-party software, it's a significant problem as the CPU-cost of implementing both (or any more than 1) methods is high.

    At least, that's the way I'm reading the article...

  • Am I the only XML-using developer who is annoyed at the XML wannabes that insist on using HTML entities for Latin characters when the XML standard (and therefore, most parsers) clearly mandates using Unicode?

    Perhaps someone more clueful than I can suggest how I can parse this (in Perl) without having to translate the HTML entities back to Unicode first?
    --
    Paul Gillingwater

  • Let's see... M$ Win2K Server box (x4 for redundnacy), M$ SQL Server 2000 with Clustering License, M$ BizTalk Server with Clustering, all on 4-processor boxes for decent performance, and you're now talking high six figures for the software alone. Add that to the hardware cost, and support, and you have a 7-figure implementation cost. Yipes!
  • Except that it falls under a Microsoft patent. Stylesheets, both XSL and CSS, were patented by Microsoft.
  • First of all, isn't one of the main benefits of XML is that everything is supposed to be able to use it? The beauty of XML is that it only specifies how data can be stored in an open form that any platform can use. If they twisted it the point where other XML supporting software can't to theirs, then they aren't really using XML, are they?

    They may have a server out now that supports XML that may become very popular, it doesn't mean that they are going to take the market on XML. As usually happens, their software is late to market. As far as anyone knows, it is not mature may be still full of bugs. Other companies (including, but not limited to Sun) have had products and APIs out on the market for quite awhile and have had a chance to mature.

    Also, take a look at the price. $5,000 for the standard version and $25,000 for the enterprise version. A few small companies may pay those prices. But large companies won't want to get burned on slow unreliable MS products and will go with a a different solution.

    Anyway... just my $.02 rant.

  • yeah, agreed - sorry, I meant the 4* series. although I still think the new Netscape (6*) sucks balls due to its inability to truly follow the DHTML spec even though they claim it does
    -------------------------------------------- ------
  • Thanks - it was a genuine question.
    now, out of curiousity, why the hesitation to tell me? I know I'm not 100% up to date on all databses - I do seem to recall this one being made free within the past 6 months now that you mention it....
    ------------------------------------------ --------
  • Microsoft gave us an embraced and extended XSLT processor and was in no way alone in forwarding a schema proposal, which is after all merely a port of DTDs to XML syntax. Microsoft doesn't have anyone sitting on the XSL WG. MS has played, sometimes well, sometimes badly.
  • The more I think about it, the more that "article" seemed like a sales pamphlet. I mean, the guy saying that Sun's attempt is "lame"? No explanation, just that it's lame, and that Microsoft is the "only" business that is putting any "real" effort forth. I guess this one is just a press release that got glossed up as an article.

  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @10:26AM (#562304) Homepage
    Here's where you can get lots of open source XML software:

    I've used the Xerces-C library (it's actually C++) in a consumer GUI product whose user documents were XML files, and I think it's just great - it builds on many platforms. A wrapper allows Xerces-C to be used from Perl. Xerces-J has a similar API (DOM and SAX) but is written in Java. They have stuff for XSLT, Scalable Vector Graphics, Soap and so on.

    So you really don't need to buy into someone's proprietary platform, use the source luke.


    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • Hello-o-o-o, ZDNet is one of the most Microsoft bias sources around. Just read thier headlines, they're always bashing the Sun defense. I don't have any respect for news sources of this type. There's absolutely nothing in this article that even remotely represents Sun. Even if it's a quote, it's still in PRINT! Don't try to say that the editor is not trying to say something here just becuase it's a quote.

    Ummm... Mary Jo Foley is one of the more 'critical of Microsoft' journalists out there. Check out her Smart Reseller articles.

    Or, particularly, this one. [zdnet.com]

    Simon
  • This smells like EDI...

    USA: ANSI X12
    Europe/world: EDIFACT

    Watch Europe/world not embrace Microsoft's standard. Then it will be, for developers, "Thanks Microsoft, thanks a lot, you stupid *&&#^$!!"

    --

  • Dark horse. Open Source and IBM.
    Too important for any one company to dominate, particularly either of Microsoft or Sun.
  • Nope, YOU are incorrect because HTML contains stand alone tags such as , etc. that are not legal in XML, except if you write them as or . This is what XHTML does, more or less.
  • Okay everyone!

    Let's sing "Embrace and Extinguish" one more time!

    Fawking Trolls! [slashdot.org]
  • Specifically, what is missing (or hidden).

    But Microsoft won't tell you that. ;-)
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't ZDNet partially owned by Microsoft?
  • It's the fight of the century! The winner gets ALL the XML standards! Taking bets on both sides, give your own odds, come on people...
  • Okay, I trust M$ about as much as a mouse trusts a snake, but the next round belongs to collaboration not to dog-eat-dog, its mine and you can't look at it or I'll sue your [expletive deleted] off.

    XML, XSL and Schema are languages to communicate and they are consensual standards that NOT adhering to will cost too much to comtemplate. Not even M$ can take on their own client base and hope to win.

    Failing in promotion and adoption of these standards will leave any perpetrator of lone systems looking like the schizophrenic guy sitting alone in his malodorous squalor on the subway, having fascinating and animated discussions, with nobody.

    The world is changing with consortial and industry associations coming together to craft DTDs for their particular domains and building on the work others for the betterment of the whole instead of trying to lock anyone in.

    DTDs are what its about If my DTDs can't work with your DTDs and my objects can't work with your objects then we both lose. If they do communiocvate and can translate between my proprietary format and you, then we both win.
  • I put 50 quatloos on the newcomer..


    Your Working Boy,
  • That's what XHTML, the successor to HTML 4.01, is for. Brings HTML 4.01 in compliance with the slightly stricter XML syntax, i.e. no hanging tags (which are sorta like hanging chads, only they look like ) which are now represented as . Other than that it's remarkably similar, but it's parsable by a standard XML parser according to the XHTML DTD. Most standard XML parsers can't read HTML (earlier versions of it, that is) unless they have been kludged for HTML support.
  • Microsoft, a late player to arrive, shows how you win the game by writing the rules to your advantage. OASIS: We want a recount!

    --

  • please explain what client browser standards have to do with server side xml document standards? i'm confused.
  • Just look at what Sun did to Java. Do we really want them to have control over the promising XML standard as well. I think XML would really start to take off (as opposed to the half-asses browser support we currently have) if Microsoft could gain control of the XML standard, and integrate it into the next version of IE.
  • Everything has pretty much been accepted except for XML Schemas. The time for comments for the "final recommendation" will be closed on Dec. 15. Thus, the standard should be out early next year. That said, XML Schemas have been pretty static since April.

    XSL and XML Schemas, as implemented by IE, are not quite standard. Of course, both technologies were generously gifted to us from Microsoft, and their implementation was out >2 years before Sun stopped bickering enough to agree that MS' proposals were pretty damned good.
  • Anyone notice that while there are detailed entries on Microsoft, Paul Allen, and Bill Gates, there's only limited information on Sun Microsystems (pretty much just describing them as the big, bad corporation that groundlessly sued M$ over embracing and extending Java) and NOTHING on Linus Torvalds OR Linux?
  • Please, get it right. Sun is the company that has been an ass over this issue, not Microsoft. Microsoft has given us XSL and XML Schemas, both of which are very nice. Sun has fought MS all the way. Sun has acted as bad as MS before the DoJ investigation....
  • Hmm, yeah, and what would the composition of the force be? I'd say that, judging from ESR's Geeks with Guns events, enough of us dot-communist free software crazies to fill a couple of surplus APCs could raise a ruckus or two. :-) Round that out with some Finnish and Swedish people lead by Linus and we're talking some real fun...

    Ballmer: "Uhh, sir, there are several white armored vehicles coming in through the front gate, flying flags with penguins and demons on them."
    Gates: "What?!"
    Dotcommunista: "We come to bring freedom to the oppressed masses!"
    Gates: "What?!"
    Dotcommunista: "OK, we've come to free the oppressed temps and laugh at your source code. Good, bad, we're the guys with the tank."


    --

  • For the record, the flight sim in Excel took a paltry 4K. It was just some basic vectors and text list of the developers.

    By contrast, the credits screen for Quake II took somewhere around 140K. (iD fixed this for Quake III Arena, using just text on a 3D background)

  • by Delirium Tremens ( 214596 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:50AM (#562334) Journal
    <?xml version="5.00.2195" encoding="Office0.9"?>

    <!DOCTYPE biz-talk PUBLIC '-//Microsoft//DTD BizTalk//EN' 'http://microsoft.com/biztalk.dtd'>

    <BiztalkMessage>
    DCOM:rtgedf-k87fh7364h384753oj5-387j4io53j453ooko4
    87979654-s4-dfs4453534676567-34535fds45t54hhhghhgh
    987958cs-gbf5t0-er345-fgdfg5-5jhjfhj-ew4-4sdsf4-ww
    89d8f7-98lkj3j-3234-sefs-435534aflk9rtew-wtgdsrgfr
    </BiztalkMessage>
  • Try the documentation here [microsoft.com].

    AFAIK, it follows the W3C DOM that other apps use, and the SDK actually documents which properties and methods are extensions of the DOM. I've been working in XML for a couple months, and of the extensions to the standard DOM, the only one MS appears not to have is the ability to rename an element, because nodeName property of elements is write once/read only.

    Exactly what kind of extension do you expect to find in an API? Embedding a small Easter Egg into a multimegabyte application is one thing, but bloating an API is another. Am I supposed to believe that xmlElement.generateHype() is supposed to return "Linux sucks!" or what?

    --

  • Oh crap, right right... I stand corrected. :)
  • Perhaps, but even if not, a majority of their advertising budget comes from MS or companies strongly aligned with them. This of course is the Fine Journalistic Tradition of Integrity that many in the media use, which has one commandment: Thall Shalt Not Piss Off Thine Advertisers, But Their Competitors Are Fair Game.


    --

  • No, that is not the way to make progress. Consider the analogy of natural languages, for example. There was no standards body defining the English language before it came into existence. The language evolved from actually being used. It was later that standards bodies came together to formalize it. And yes, this is the cause for all the incompatibilities.

    The danger with doing it the other way around is stagnation. You can spend years waiting for a standards body to come to agreement. And the agreement they come to is not necessarily the best one either. Look at CORBA, for example. A bunch of companies tried to ensure that their latest, greatest coolest features were in the standard and the end result was an ugly, unweildy and complicated standard.

    As much as I hate to accept it, in the practical world the best way to evolve is a Darwinian approach where the best standard survives through the test of market approval.
  • My favorite quote on this subject goes something like, "HTML is not a subset of XML any more than a car is a subset of steel." XML is a meta-markup langauge--a language for describing markup languages. HTML is a markup language. HTML can be expressed as XML, but is not a subset of XML.
  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:54AM (#562354)
    This is just the real world - as long as MS's standards are open and not proprietry I have no particular problem with it.

    Too bad, then, that MS has declared that they intend to use XML as a container for proprietary (read 'closed') data formats. We suspected this for some time, but in a recent interview Ballmer came right out and said so.
  • A standard that is tied to a particular implementation is not a standard. It is a product, not a standard. At least when Sun puts out a spec, like JDK or J2EE, or JSP, they put out a reference implementation for others to start from, to create their own products.

    Microsoft is just documenting part of their product, calling it a statndard, and expecting people to use their products. Even if someone created a new implementation based on MS specs, MS would change their next version of the product to break compatibility.

    Just think about the "open" Win32 api. It is constantly changing, and full of bugs. That's why WINE has to emulate bugs and shit, not just the spec. Does that sound like a standard?
  • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @10:05AM (#562356)
    What does HTML and the web have to do with XML? XML is used on the server for data markup. It is then processed and stored in databases, sent to other servers, or transformed into something displayable, like HTML. XML is not something you will have on a web page like a Java applet or a MIDI tune. To do the data crunching and processing, you use an XML parser with DOM or XSL transformations. It's needed because SGML was too loose of a specification to be practical. XML defines a set of easy to implement rules about how documents are built, how DTD's for the document types are described etc.

    Now here's something for you to disagree with: XHTML should replace HTML as soon as possible so that we can get rid of the horrible beast! Hopefully IE5.5 and Mozilla and WAP 2.0 will make the transition faster.
  • My impression was that it's about what is going to be the central repository / standards body for XML schemas. In other words, will the "official" or "standard" airline industry XML be the one at biztalk.org or the one at oasis.org?

    By the way, "Biztalk Server 2000" is the worst name since the "Shouptronic".

  • This is just the real world - as long as MS's standards are open and not proprietry I have no particular problem with it. In a way it's good that at this time, the birth of the Net, there is a behemoth who can dictate common standards. Without MS I fear the Net would degenerate into conflicting and incompatible rulesets.

    Man, replace MS with Novell/DEC/Apple, and I'd think that this was written 20 years ago when networking was just starting. But where is IPX/SPX, AppleTalk, DECNet, etc. now?
  • by tdrury ( 49462 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @12:12PM (#562365) Homepage
    This is really no different than open-source SOAP. What SOAP (and I think Biztalk) are doing are serializing code (java) objects and putting them in XML. Thus the binary-looking stuff in the parent message. The recipient of the XML then de-serializes this back into a runnable object.

    This is how SOAP passes objects around.

    -tim
  • Lots of buzzwords, and lots of hype. Could someone please try to explain what are the problems this BizTalk &co. are trying to solve ???
  • Microsoft isn't embracing the standard that Sun wants to use at all. As the guy from Meta Group put it, "The only real alternative to BizTalk is, ebXML and it's lame. It's just Sun and a bunch of bureaucrats backing it." You might as well bitch that Microsoft is "embracing and extinguishing" CORBA by their decision to use COM, or that the group behind KDE is "embracing and extinguishing" Gnome's Bonobo technology by supporting their own different object technology. It's called different approaches to a problem, so please get a clue before you spew your mantras next time.


    Cheers,

  • It should be seen as a good thing: I'd much rather see two companies arguing over standards than spending their time finding ways to make their work totally incompatible and break all standards, making all code relevant to the older version worthless.

    The fact that standards exist are wonderful; debate over them is proper to make sure that all aspects are considered. Even if Microsoft wants only what's best for Microsoft, by causing BizTalk to be better off, the XML spec is not about to become more restricted. (Just their DTD [XML buddies: am I getting the terminology right?], which they could do anyway)

  • Assumptions made in the above post:
    • 1) Dictators are good in some instances.

    • 2) It's okay if Microsoft is that dictator.
    Hrm. I might go along with #1 -- a benevolent dictator is the optimum form of government. And even a not-completely-benevolent dictator is possibly better than a democratic process in some cases. But I take strong exception to suggesting that MS should be put in such a position.
    --
  • The logic is supposed to be that open standards are created, then software and 'initiatives' are built upon that standard, not the other way around.

    If a standard is worth its salt, it can be extended by a vendor to accomodate the vendor's needs. That's why XML is an eXtensible Markup Language.

    Next thing you know Microsoft is going to try to restandardize English grammar so it'll work better with MS Word's grammar checker.

    Kevin Fox
  • Microsoft in a surprising and lightning move placed its BizServer in the Sudetenland and thumbed it's nose at the world. Isolationist leaders grumbled and threatened to do no more than write a very stern letter to the United Nations. Some worry of OASIS being overrun, but appeasers believe things can still be handled amicably and there's nothing really to worry about...

    Could it be, like the Japanese business model valued the Samuri spirit, that Microsoft values blitzkreig, subversion and control?

    --

  • 'cause I don't want tohave to worry about "Microsoft XML" and "Sun XML"...

    *sigh* Why couldn't you just read the story? This is not about MS XML and Sun XML. XML is and remains defined and agreed upon like before. This is about an XML based language used to transfer "ecommerce messages" (simplified explanation). Just like there is SOAP and XML RPC for remote procedure calling over HTTP, there are various languages for "ecommerce messages". BizTalk, supported by Microsoft, is just one of the many. The battle is about which of these will become the most popular. It's not about someone trying to embrace and extend XML.

  • What does a 'XML orchestration server' do?


    ---
  • What part about XML is not "agreed on"? You can go to www.w3c.org and read exactly what is agreed on and when. I use and have used XML in my daily work for a couple of years now and I have never had ANY problems with any products not understanding XML produced by other vendor's parsers.
  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @12:36PM (#562390)
    Glad to oblige. From "Microsoft's Ballmer: Sun has no clue." [zdnet.com]:

    Microsoft will continue to protect any intellectual property that it embeds as objects in XML wrappers. "We will have proprietary formats to protect our intellectual property," he said.
  • I agree! It seems like a lot of these posts are completely ignoring that fact. How can it be a standard if it requires a piece of proprietary software? Maybe the wording was incorrect and they meant to say "Microsoft's implementation of this standard requires SQL Server 2000". I don't know, but it seems to be the typical practices of Microsoft. Create a standard and make sure that it's so dependent on your software that nobody can implement it except you anyway.

    At least with Sun, even if they picked one database to use, it would probably be Oracle, the de facto standard for databases, which runs on numerous platforms. But, I don't think Sun would pick one database.

    Exactly what does a standard have to gain by a particular database? It's all just storage. If you can do it with a database, you can do it with flat files (although not close to as well, I'm not advocating files).
  • This yet another example of some upstart company, like Sun, daring to trample on Microsoft's benevolent attempts at creating appropriate industry standards. I remember a similar fight when Sun dared to challenge Microsoft's Java standard.

    Won't these people ever realize that extending the standards and then not documenting most of the APIs is GOOD for EVERYONE?

    Please forgive my sarcasm.

  • . . .then we are all well and truly fucked.

    Perhaps I'll go build a little wooden shack in Nebraska or Montana or wherever the fuck the Unibomber was living.
  • is where M$FT wants to take XML.
  • Stop complaining about BEA. It is certainly not the best App Server out there and it is not the cheapest, but it is a lot better than the extremely crappy and expensive one I am forced to use. I would switch my Qwerty keyboard against an Azerty one and agree to use a left-hand mouse for the rest of my life if I could use BEA right now. And Orion, of course. Or JBoss. Or OpenEJB. Or JavaCCM. Or (daydreaming) Inprise IAS. *Sight*.
  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@nospAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @10:03AM (#562407) Homepage

    Sure they got Java and turned it into a standard, but that was before the beast had awoken. Now MS is pushing C# and it's standards all over the shop.

    I've looked over C# and it looks pretty good...an obvious Java ripoff with some additional syntactical candy and the ability to cast explicit pointers...whether it will attract a wide array of developers is another matter. Microsoft may not have learned their lesson from J++.

    The simple fact is that MS have the marketshare, on the client browser side at least. They can pretty much dictate the standard without having to worry about fleas like Sun.

    One thing MS definitely *does not have* is a wide marketshare on the client side. This is because they've focused too much on PCs and not enough on PDAs (I'm sorry, WinCE doesn't have anywhere near the same market share as Palm) and cell phones (where Microsoft doesn't even compete). In fact, unless Microsoft opens up their standards the way Sun did, and makes C# available on platforms besides Windows, C# is pretty much going to stay in the Windows environment. That's going to hurt adoption of the C# language, especially on applications that require lots of iron.

    My guess? .NET and C# are going to define the way Windows is used in the next half-decade, but it won't take the same market share as Java.

    In a way it's good that at this time, the birth of the Net, there is a behemoth who can dictate common standards. Without MS I fear the Net would degenerate into conflicting and incompatible rulesets.

    If anything, Microsoft is frightening the other companies into adopting open and standardized rule-sets. After all, if the rest of us won't do it, Microsoft will. Not that adopting open and standardized rule-sets hasn't stopped Microsoft from "embracing and extending" ... far from it ....

    The Free ODMG Project [sourceforge.net] needs volunteers.

  • the upcoming battle between XML standards proposed by Sun and Microsoft.

    Golly. To think, all this time I was under the impression that XML was the standard created by the W3C [w3.org]. But hey, if Microsoft says we need an XML standard, I guess we do.

    I wonder what they're going to call it... "Microsoft XML: The standard standard."
    -----
    "People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them"
  • I thought XML already had a standard definition.

    It does [w3.org].

    There are a few rules, and you include a DTD to interpret any particular implementation of XML.

    No, not quite. The DTD basically just says what the valid tags are for a certain XML dialect. To actually "understand" the information requires an application to parse the XML file, or use a component that does this.

    The company I'm presently working at has been using a specific implementation of XML for communication between servers, and they owe nothing to MSFT or Sun because of it. What exactly have these two companies done?

    They were partially responsible for developing the XML standard. They supply free parsers for you to use in your own projects. They implement XML support in their products.

    I find the article vague at best. Have they provided XML interpreters?

    As far as I can tell, they have both implemented a way for businesses to communicate in certain ways, using the XML standard. These ways are incompatible with each other, so presumably, applications will have to have different code to support each standard. I suppose it's like the way a web browser is expected to support both GIF and PNG images - the formats do the same job, but do it in different ways.

  • Uh, no. HTML is an SGML based language ("an application of SGML). XML is a subset of SGML. XML and SGML are not languages. They are a set of rules on how to make markup languages.

    Pigs are animals. Monkeys are animals. This does not make pigs monkeys. "Animal" is also not anything physical. It's a type of a living being.
  • The sim is only run when someone invokes it.

    Considering how much memory XMMS uses every time it is invoked, permentantly for the length of the XMMS, I think this is a small price to pay to see the developers credits temporarily.

  • This is quite possibly the most offtopic post I have ever read.

    The article is about server-side data interchange. XML is rarely used in native form to display data to a client. Basically you are spewing garbage about HMTL and its extensions.

    XML is mostly all server-side work. Backend processing, interchange, data-delivery - that type of stuff.

    Any of the existing "standards" would be completely useless when trying to interface data between say, an ass-old data collection device, and a modern back-room server. Thats were XML, and MS's BizTalk server comes in. That server could talk to the machine, gather proprietary data, convert it to XML, and route it to the proper machine, database, or location. Thats what the article is about. Thats whats going on. This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH HTML, OR CLIENT SIDE WEBPAGES.

  • All XML really is, is just a way to convey the name-to-value relationships in a hierarchy of data. But it's also overkill for this purpose. Simpler formats like HDF have existed for a longer time, but it seems XML is being adopted because it gets to ride the coattails of HTML.

  • Well lets see, I implemented a very nice little BizTalk setup from the beta code not mroe than 2 weeks ago, so let me go through the real costs, not your fanciful "M$" made up numbers claiming a seven figure bill:


    BizTalk Machines x 2 = $3.5k
    (I used Dual Celerons 500's, each with 512 Mb of RAM, and two mirrored 20 Gb drives).

    SQL Server Machines x 2 = $4k
    (I used PIII 800's with 512 Mb of RAM, and two mirrored 50 gb drives)

    SQL Server Licensing x 2 CPUS = ~$2.5k

    BizTalk Licensing for 4 CPUS = $20k
    (Havent had to pay yet because I was using Beta code, but the real code will be here soon).

    Win2k Advanced Server Edition x 4 = $3.5k
    (Was thinking of going with plain Server, but decided not to, just in case I wanted a bigger cluster later on).

    My companies bill for implementing, testing, and 2 yrs of support (just labor, no software or hardware): $25k


    So, some quick math shows less than 70k spent on the project. Now what will they get for that money? Lets see.. well instead of collecting data from 40 machines by hand (on paper), searching for the relevant pieces, and typing them by hand into a database (about 1500 entries per day), its all automatic. Instead of sending that same data, after custom hand formatting, to their suppliers - its all automatic. On top of that, suppliers can hitch into the server through an SSL website and query machines for tolerance information in REALTIME. Before it took them 24-48 hrs for that data.

    So for that investment of $70k, they can free up 6-12 staff members for other work, like finding more customers, expanding product lines, etc, etc.

    Seems to me that you were spreading lots of anti-MS FUD, werent you?

  • prices for the BizTalk software. It seems that the more something costs today the more trust will be put into it by largest companies. Damn, I used Gemstone/J Application Server, BEA (WebLogic) App Server, Resin and the Orion App Server. I tell you, the more expensive this shit is, the more pain in the ass it is. Orion is the cheapest (free for developers) and WebLogic is the most expensive per processor (around 15,000USD,) the difference is that BEA has a bunch of GUIs and Orion works better. But go figure, Amazon uses BEA, Alltel uses BEA etc. etc. who uses Orion? Developer while building and testing their EJB solutions. Anyway, I don't think that MS did something exceptional with their XML server. Have any of you guys looked into JDO from SUN? Do you know how much the JavaBlend tool is? They should make it even more expensive, then it'll defenetely grab more market.
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @11:06AM (#562425) Homepage
    Look at CORBA, for example. A bunch of companies tried to ensure that their latest, greatest coolest features were in the standard and the end result was an ugly, unweildy and complicated standard.

    Right, but XML isn't like that at all. The idea behind XML is creating a minimal framework (a (gak) meta-standard, if you will) which can be extended through DTDs for specific tasks. XML is already being used, nobody is sitting on their hands saying they can't incorporate XML because it's not final, yet companies out there are trying to modify it and call their implementation the standard.

    HTML is a better example. When two companies take a standard and try to make it evolve along divergent paths (Netscape's D-HTML and IE's HTML4.0), the public suffers, as browsers will implement one or the other, and is therefore non-standard and means massive incompatability or doubled efforts in website creation.

    Sure, Microsoft's implementation wins in the end. As you say, it's Darwinian evolution. but the point is that this evolution is always going on, and though it may leave a trail of accepted standards in its wake, they're no longer the area of market focus, and aren't as important as the 'next thing' that's being worked on, inevitably by more than one company with different business plans and marketing goals.

    Kevin Fox
  • If you've read Microsoft's Encarta entries on "Microsoft" or "Bill Gates", you know that they've already started doing this.

    MS-English is already a reality.
  • He makes a good point about ANSI defining the standard, however...
  • Failing in promotion and adoption of these standards will leave any perpetrator of lone systems looking like the
    schizophrenic guy sitting alone in his malodorous squalor on the subway, having fascinating and animated
    discussions, with nobody


    . . . like Novell
  • This would be even funnier if that wasn't exactly what they are going to do.

    This is the only way that they can get someone to buy NT and SQLServer to run *their* biztalk server vs. one implemented by someone else.

  • Lame is a horse you put to sleep.

    Let's not forget that posting a quote from someone does not excuse you from your endorsing it as being relative to your story and helping depict the disposition therein.



  • Disk usage. I imagine a little more for memory usage.

  • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:44AM (#562438)
    This is not about XML! It's about BizTalk vs. Sun's e-business XML language. Nobody has any problems agreeing upon what XML is and how it works. The whole point of XML is to create new languages - hence eXtensible.

    Besides, to those who bash Microsoft for embracing and extending others standards, it's worth nothing who wrote the original XML spec:

    Editors:
    Tim Bray, Textuality and Netscape
    Jean Paoli, Microsoft
    C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, University of Illinois at Chicago and Text Encoding Initiative
    Eve Maler, Sun Microsystems, Inc. - Second Edition

    It's just as much Microsoft's standard as it is Sun's and Netscape's and if anyone is going all out for XML, it's Microsoft. Which is not to say that Sun wouldn't be going all out for it; just take a look at java.sun.com today!
  • by Sludge ( 1234 ) <slashdot.tossed@org> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:45AM (#562442) Homepage
    The only real alternative to BizTalk is, ebXML and it's lame. It's just Sun and a bunch of bureaucrats backing it.

    It's this sort of quote that really makes me lose respect for the articles. Calling something 'lame' in a tech article does not suffice, except when herding lower IQ types into opposing a technology and chuckling at the misfortunes of another.

  • I'm just curious -- is this the second edition of Sun Microsystems, or the second edition of Eve Maler?

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