The Correct Title

The correct title of this specification, and the correct full name of XML, is "Extensible Markup Language". "eXtensible Markup Language" is just a spelling error. However, the abbreviation "XML" is not only correct but, appearing as it does in the title of the specification, an official name of the Extensible Markup Language.

The name and abbreviation were invented by James Clark; other options under consideration had included MGML, for Minimal Generalized Markup Language. Here is an excerpt from an email from James dated August 19, 1996:

I agree that GM isn't vey catchy. The other problem with "generalized" is that I suspect many, even quite technical people, don't know what a generalized markup language is. Nonetheless it seems to me that the fact that our markup language is generalized is something that should be tremendously appealing to users: "it's the markup language where *you*, not W3C or Netscape or Microsoft, choose how to mark up your data". I think what we need is a word that gets across the idea of generalized markup who don't know what it is. Perhaps something like "unrestricted", "unlimited", "extensible", "user-controlled".

I think putting "standard" in the name of the standard is a bit vacuous, so I would favour a name like UML or XML.

And here's a reply from Jon Bosak, dated August 20th:

In my opinion, the U-combinations won't fly, but if we allow "X" to stand for "extensible", then I could live with (and even come to love) XML as an acronym for "extensible markup language", and I hereby now throw it into the list of current proposals.

And here, finally, are the results of the committee vote:

VotesAcronymFull Name
5XMLExtensible Markup Language
4MAGMAMinimal Architecture for Generalized Markup Applications
3SLIMStructured Language for Internet Markup
1MGMLMinimal Generalized Markup Language

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Copyright © 1998, Tim Bray. All rights reserved.