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Taking a Byte out of XML

An Xtra look at all things XML

By Mikael Bergkvist
Dec 11, 2004

"So, what's so great about XML anyway, and why should I care?"

We still get that question from time to time, since we operate up north. I live in the nothern part of sweden, a part of what's known as the "liquer belt", loosly translated of course, because the cold require a drink or two to withstand. It's an area stretching around the globe across nothern russia, finland, sweden and norway. The coldest we ever had was -53 celsius, and that's when your spit freezes to ice before hitting the ground. I mean that - it litterally does that. I couldn't believe it either. Thankfully, we only experience this once a year, around december-january, a period when everything is pitch black 24 hours a day. There is a very successful graphic novel about vampires exploiting this 24-hour darkness to create a reign of terror. Up here they are mostly known as "laywers".

Anyway, people up here are really practical as a result. Just look at IKEA. These things are impossible to put together, so they sell them to people 'as is', for them to put together themselves. Genius, imagine if MacDonalds did that? "Here, these are the ingredients, now go make a burger.." And the swedish "sin" is just us being practical, we would have been extinct a long time ago otherwise, since even New York has TWICE the population my entire nation has. (New York has circa 16 million inhibitants and sweden a little more than 8 million at the last count, while still being the third largets landmass in (classic) europe.)

So, when I get that question (the one I started with, you know, way back at the start of this) I need a damned good answer. And when it is so cold it hurts to talk even, only one answer will do. - "It makes life easier on you".

And it's true too. Systems can talk to each other, you can manage data much easier, it's humanly readable and you can glue things together that normally fit together worse than a holy man and a politician. And as a result, there's a huge demand for XML-compliant solutions in this area - which kinda proves my point. It's a small country (people wise) and messy solutions costs money which we can't afford, and this is also a really old country, with systems going way back which are still online. XML helps us to survive, upgrading and gluing together pieces that otherwise would never fit, in competition with the really big boys, still keeping us on the top ten list of the worlds most financially successful nations. Not bad, considering that even New York has a larger population, and that Microsoft probably could buy the entire thing. (IKEA's Ingvar Kamprad is still richer than Bill Gates though) - XML really makes a difference for us.

XML isn't hype, don't think it ever was, in fact, it's the exact opposite. It's cool and practical, and thank god for that, because somehow it brings warmth after all, to a people who'd rather sleep all day until this unfriendly winter has passed and gone away. The swedish summer is something completely different though. - 24 hours of sun and californian heat, and lot's and lot's of blondes... *Sigh*

Signing off:
Mikael Bergkvist

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