Forum focuses on the practice of XML

Forum focuses on the practice of XML

Extensible Markup Language sounds great in theory, but how can agencies get workers to use it?

The CIO Council's XML Working Group yesterday co-sponsored a seminar in Arlington, Va., for officials to learn how to implement XML without imposing excessive costs on their agencies or burdens on employees.

'It's one thing to talk about doing XML; it's another thing to actually do it,' said Owen Ambur, a Fish and Wildlife Service systems analyst and co-chairman of the XML Working Group.

Applications for handling XML are rapidly maturing and starting to appeal to nontechnical people, he said.

Today's XML authors have a wide range of available tools, said Barry Schaeffer, president of X.Systems Inc. of Manassas, Va. Tools range from templates and plug-ins for word-processing programs to full-featured, enterprise-strength editing applications.

Subject-matter experts tend to prefer word-processing software and resist moving to XML editors because they find word processors are more flexible and user-friendly, Schaeffer said.

Agency officials should make sure they fully understand their organization's environment before they start redesigning workflows to include direct creation of content in XML, Schaeffer said.

'If you do it wrong, your authors can become a very nasty adversary,' he said.

Most industry speakers at the XML Authoring/Editing Forum demonstrated their companies' newest software products for manipulating XML-tagged documents, managing metadata and creating XML schema.

Co-sponsoring yesterday's event was the District of Columbia Area XML Users' Group.

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