XML Working Group Reorganized

October 29, 1998

Liora Alschuler

On Monday, October 26, the W3C made public its long in-the-works reorganization of what is officially known as the XML Activity. This move replaces the XML Working Group that chiseled Extensible Markup Language (XML) from the raw granite of the ISO standard, originally chartered in mid-1996 as "SGML on the Web."

The reorganization names an XML Coordination Group under Jon Bosak, Chair of the former Working Group, and five Working Groups focusing on related activities.

The reorganization recognizes the proliferating roles XML is playing on the Web and the intense interest in seeing that industry groups, individual customers and suppliers are all working from the same page. Dan Connolly, the W3C's XML Activity Lead, who has shepherded the reorganization process from the beginning, termed the reorganization a product of XML's "success disaster," referring to the embarrassment of volunteer riches. The 280-member consortium has doubled in the past 18 months, and "everyone wants to be here and make something good. What we are working toward is so valuable; that's what makes it work," according to Connolly.

According to Tim Bray, co-editor of the XML v. 1.0 Recommendation and now co-chair of the Syntax Working Group, such success has brought with it intense pressure to fill holes and extend the functionality of the standard. "There is pressure for a whole bunch of deliverables, more than one group could accomplish even if it could work effectively," Bray explains. "The answer was obvious: subdivide and attack in parallel with smaller, more efficient, teams."

The XML Activity is only one of 40 or 50 such "activities" within W3C, many of which have some relation to XML. The groups working on Extensible Style Language (XSL), the Document Object Model (DOM), and Resource Definition Framework (RDF), for example, are all part of separate activities. No announcement was made with respect to XML namespaces, but one is expected shortly.

XML WG Subgroups

Thanks to Lisa Rein for her work on the table.

Name of Working Group Mission
(WD=working draft, PR=proposed recommendation)
XML Coordination

Coordinate efforts between the different activity groups with special attention to spec interdependencies
(comprised of WG co-chairs)

Jon Bosak, Sun Microsystems

Schema Create a mechanism for strong datatyping and for constraining structure and attributes, apart from the DTD.
Requirements, WD and PR on data typing and schema language planned for 1999
Dave Hollander, Hewlett-Packard;
C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the W3C
Linking Define internal and external advanced hypertext linking and addressing that scales well and is reasonable to maintain. This activity spans both XLink and XPointer. Bill Smith, Sun Microsystems
Information Set Create a common reference set of abstract descriptions of XML documents (tree structures, element and attribute lists, etc.) that other specifications can use and extend to construct their underlying data models. The aim is interoperability among tools and specifications.
WD end 1998, PR Spring 1999
David Megginson, invited expert
Fragment Define a piece of a document such that it can be sent, received, and composed within arbitrary parent documents.
PR Summer 1999
Paul Grosso, Arbortext
Syntax Five tasks are listed:
  • Link style sheets with documents;
  • Define an "XML Profile,"
    a simplified and reduced set of full XML features;
  • Define "canonical" XML documents;
  • Keep XML up to date with internationalization standards; and
  • Track and fix errata
PR Style Sheet Linking
PR XML Profile
PR Canonical XML all mid-1999
Tim Bray, invited expert; Joel Nava, Adobe