Specifically, we wanted it to be straightforward to create useful XML programs that did not depend on reading the DTD. We were ambitious, and declared that "easy" meant that the holder of a CS bachelor's degree ought to be able to write basic XML processing machinery in less than a week.
The motivation here is obvious - data formats succeed or fail depending on whether there are good tools available. If the format is easy to process, good tools will be available; otherwise not.
The processor-in-a-week goal has proved elusive, so in that respect we failed to meet this design goal at a quantitative level. However, the fact that within months of the appearance of the first drafts of the XML spec, there were a substantial number of freeware XML processors on the market serves as evidence that perhaps we did meet our goal, qualitatively.
Back-link to specCopyright © 1998, Tim Bray. All rights reserved.