Getting XML Going in the Real World
by Cnet Enterprise
To avoid XML obstacles, it's a smart idea to follow the initiatives and
offerings from the various XML consortia and, particularly,
industry-specific efforts. These include: eCo Framework from
CommerceNet, primarily led by Commerce One; RosettaNet's
business transactions (PIPs); the cXML (Commerce XML) initiative,
led primarily by Ariba; and BizTalk led by Microsoft.
You don't need to look very far, however, to see XML gaining steam, as each day brings the release of a new XML-enabled application or tool. The creator of Notes, Ray Ozzie, just unveiled Groove, a peer-to-peer collaboration and messaging system using tools specified in XML. With Groove, you can add functionality through XML-RPC and SOAP for content sharing and messaging tasks. It's getting to be an XML world after all--and fast.
Nowhere, perhaps, is the trend to XML more apparent than in content management systems. Content management is a huge issue for a Web site after it grows larger than several hundred pages. Arbortext's Epic E-Content Engine converts content from different XML sources and then serves it into any format requested. Xyvision's Content@XML similarly relies on XML to wrap itself around content delivery. And Worldweb.net just released its beta version of Expressroom 2.0 at Internet World on October 24, 2000. Used by many publications (for example, George, Cycle World, and Car & Driver) to manage their Web sites, the 2.0 version of Expressroom is described by Worldweb.net CTO, Larry Henry, as "using XML exclusively to manage objects, data, and pages...and it was designed that way from the beginning."
Awaiting a Standard
Confused yet? You will be, because XML's flexibility is also the greatest source of difficulty for those just starting to wrap their arms around it. In a recent Forrester Research survey of e-commerce managers at 51 global 2,500 companies, 71 percent mentioned exploring some form of XML. However, only 18 percent could articulate how they use or plan to use XML. Even more damning, 76 percent implied a wait-and-see approach, saying that before they can use XML for automating business-to-business transactions, industry-specific details need to be added to the XML standard. The result could be a classic "chicken or the egg" conundrum as companies wait for others to do the heavy lifting in jump-starting their industry schemas.
Given that XML's bedrock benefits so greatly outweigh any upfront investment, their glee is understandable as the groundswell over the coming year becomes unstoppable.