Monday, November 24, 2003

I'm starting to admit something I've been avoiding for some time.

I can't read XML

That's why I could never use Ant. It's why I'm having so much trouble trying to understand RDF. It's why, although I was really excited by the idea of a wiki you can draw on (details below), I felt a wave of resigned depression wash over me when I looked at the examples of SVG. I'm never going to learn to adapt or use this.

And it's why I cling on to beautiful, beautiful wiki-markup, which I can understand when I look at it. But my eyes don't read XML. They slide over it. I understand nothing.

XML is everywhere for one reason only. No one learns how to write parsers. Nor is there much support for them. There are no drag-and-drop components for creating little languages. No standard libraries for writing them. Visual Basic doesn't come with Regular Expressions. Java only got REs recently, and still treats strings as second class citizens.

So when a programmer needs to parse a config file, he just reaches for the off-the-shelf XML parser. That's all that's available to him.

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