Sometimes I think no one reads the editorial. Normally I receive maybe no more than fifty comments concerning any editorial. I kid myself that I do a good enough job lining up the content for the magazine that no one has any complaints, and that they post each month's editorial on a wall for all to see. In reality, I hope it doesn't show up on that many dart boards I know programmers.
Our JavaOne issue (JDJ Vol. 4, issue 6) wasn't one of those times. I've been writing about programming for over five years, and I've got to say that the response to my "XML Mambo" column was nothing short of a landslide. I couldn't have selected a more charged topic to write about, a fact I'm very pleased with.
To recap briefly: my column questioned XML as the next "killer app." While I feel XML is important, it's my thought that it's overhyped. In my mind that was the gist of the article.
Now I'm either a genius or a schmuck.
The e-mails came fast and furious: those who thought I was so right XML is just marketing hype and those who thought I was a blithering idiot hadn't I ever tried to code server pages in HTML? (Fact is, no, I haven't. That sounds particularly ill-advised in my opinion.) But from an editorial standpoint I had to stand up and take notice: XML is important to you. Maybe it's the next killer appmaybe it isn't. Clearly though, you were concerned about the impact XML would have on the world, particularly the Java community. And so was I.
In fact, we here (here being a virtual kind of thing: I'm in New Jersey, Alan's in Scotland, Ajit's in Texas) at SYS-CON have been having numerous discussions concerning XML. So many that I lose the thread of the topics regularly. One thing we all agree on though is that XML is something we need to cover closely.
Hence this issue. Welcome to our special focus issue on XML. On subsequent pages you'll find numerous articles relating to XML, and to Java. We're exploring the topic, possibly in preparation for bigger things. (Can you say XML Developer's Journal? I knew you could.) Because we know that it's important to you.
Either from a career possibility standpoint, or at least for the impact it will have on your lives as Java programmers. Inside, you'll get more information about XML, as well as the opinions of our sharpest minds here at the magazine.
I'd like to try to set some things straight, though. One, I don't think XML is pointless. To me it's objects without the methods which sounds like a step backward, but may not be, as not every object truly needs methods. Second, I think it will have a big impact on e-commerce and EDI, as it's a simple, powerful way to agree on data transfers between organizations. It may even be a decent way to allow larger companies to interact with Web sites without having to have a human being sitting in front of a browser.
But I still stick to my guns when I say that XML is not the next killer app in the way that Java was. XML won't stop me from programming in Java the way Java stopped me from programming in PowerBuilder and, for others, VB or C++. It's not going to change people's minds about platform-independent coding or free them from the Tyranny of Redmont (I'm not sure Java did either, this is editorial license). Instead, I see XML as the SQL of the next century. SQL is everywhere, but few people point to it as a revolutionary product. XML will be like that. We'll adopt it as a good idea that should have been there in the first place, but it won't truly change our lives as developers.
And that's my opinion. As always, I welcome your comments and will try to respond to them. I hope you find this issue intriguing, insightful and useful.
Sean Rhody is the editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal. He is also a principal consultant with Computer Sciences Corporation, where he specializes in application architecture particularly distributed systems. He can be reached at