XML, Java, and the Future of the Web

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XML, Java, and the Future of the Web

October 2, 1997

Jon Bosak

XML, Java,

and the Future of the Web

Jon Bosak


The extraordinary growth of the World Wide Web has been fueled by the ability it gives authors to easily and cheaply distribute electronic documents to an international audience. As Web documents have become larger and more complex, however, Web content providers have begun to experience the limitations of a medium that does not provide the extensibility, structure, and data checking needed for large-scale commercial publishing. The ability of Java applets to embed powerful data manipulation capabilities in Web clients makes even clearer the limitations of current methods for the transmittal of document data.

To address the requirements of commercial Web publishing and enable the further expansion of Web technology into new domains of distributed document processing, the World Wide Web Consortium has developed an Extensible Markup Language (XML) for applications that require functionality beyond the current Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This paper describes the XML effort and discusses new kinds of Java-based Web applications made possible by XML.[1]

Background: HTML and SGML

Most documents on the Web are stored and transmitted in HTML. HTML is a simple language well suited for hypertext, multimedia, and the display of small and reasonably simple documents. HTML is based on SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language, ISO 8879), a standard system for defining and using document formats.

SGML allows documents to describe their own grammar--that is, to specify the tag set used in the document and the structural relationships that those tags represent. HTML applications are applications that hardwire a small set of tags in conformance with a single SGML specification. Freezing a small set of tags allows users to leave the language specification out of the document and makes it much easier to build applications, but this ease comes…
Jon Bosak
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