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I have to agree with JDJ's editor-in-chief, Sean Rhody. The word XML seems to spark technological fires. The JavaOne Conference issue of JDJ (Vol. 4, issue 6) featured three articles on XML. Having written one of them, I share the experience of the flood of e-mails regarding this obviously hot and controversial topic. Aside from the folks who actually read what I write, others who have little clue about programming have asked me what XML is. As Sean mentioned, at JDJ we've been tossing e-mails back and forth about XML, where it is today, what it may mean and what role SYS-CON Publications should play in its evolution.

Admittedly, a lot of market hype surrounds XML. But that's true of any emerging technology. Four years ago people's opinions of Java ranged from a language that allowed you to do cute things on the Web to a platform that would revolutionize distributed computing. XML is in its infancy stages now. However, it holds the promise of unifying data formatting and display in computing as well as fulfilling the dream of real cross-platform data exchange. Mind you, this is just a promise. What it can do, and what it won't do, will be clearer over the next few years. Regardless, almost anyone who's doing anything in the world of e-commerce is taking a serious look at XML.

Before I ramble on, I guess I should introduce myself. I've been one of JDJ's contributing editors for more than two years now. I started with the Cosmic Cup column on the Java platform. This year my e-Java column covers Java and e-commerce. The purpose of this focus issue is to bring you comprehensive coverage of XML in all its aspects good and bad, because there's a lot of confusion about this technology in the marketplace today. Our writers, who are experienced in various facets of the computing industry, will bring you the best coverage that can be found on this topic. This issue serves as a sample of the kind of information we intend to provide, possibly as an independent XML publication.

The articles in this issue aren't all "gung ho" XML. Israel Hilerio discusses the XML-Java relationship. He explains how XML relates to Java and why it's important for Java-based enterprise solutions, and dives into how the Java's dynamic class loading works with XML. Kang Lu covers EDI and XML. He brings a down-to-earth feel to the hype that surrounds XML and what it's really good for when complementing EDI. He relates this to the real world of human-to-human communications. Michael Boyd discusses RDBMS vis--vis XML and describes XML support in Oracle8i. In the spirit of the current issue, I discuss the XML-based data interchange format for the Online Ticket Store series of articles. Jason Westra explains how the newly released XML DTD for EJBs is becoming a standard for EJB deployment descriptors, another example of the synergy between the worlds of Java and XML.

This issue also features columns that focus on XML technologies. In XML Corner Andrew Watson talks about XML's role in middleware, specifically with reference to CORBA. Andrew explains how XML isn't a silver bullet, but can serve a complementary role alongside CORBA in middleware solutions. In this month's e-Java I attempt to describe the various product categories that exist in the XML market today.

In this issue we also offer JDJ's interview with Bob Sutor, the chief strategy officer of OASIS. Bob told us about OASIS and IBM's strategy regarding XML. In addition, Israel Hilario and Tija Ragas offer their reviews of two recently released XML books.

XML isn't an application-building technology. It's an enabler. Currently, XML is playing various roles in distributed computing, the primary ones being data format definitions and data display. Some purists look at it as a threat to existing technologies. XML fascists think it will solve world hunger. In my opinion there's a middle ground. I hope here at SYS-CON Publications we can help you identify how you can apply XML in your application domain to solve real-world problems. We look forward to hearing from you.

Ajit can be reached at [email protected]


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