Under Construction XMLtoday
Under Construction XMLtoday

On any topic is a challenge – putting together such a site on a fairly technical subject such as XML can be even more of a challenge, especially when managed by someone who already has a full time job.

XMLtoday has languished recently, both because of a outside work pressures (generally a good thing, mind you) and because the nature of the XML field today is very different than it was when I first started writing about the topic more than a decade ago.

XMLToday switched from a Drupal 6 platform to WordPress

About a year and a half ago, XMLToday switched from a Drupal 6 platform to WordPress. WordPress is a good blogging platform, it has a solid extensions library and active community, and for a while it served fairly my needs fairly well.

However, as a platform, it also was not terribly friendly to writing about XML, it’s interfaces for working with images was cumbersome, and once you moved outside of its core functionality doing other things became problematic at best. Earlier this year, Drupal 7 debuted, and I found with other sites that I managed that used it that the capabilities D7 presented did in fact meet my needs, although its taken a while for the extension modules to catch up.

One of the key things I liked was that its user management, the ability to have multiple people contribute to the site, has improved over both WP and D6, the Views module which controls displaying sequences of articles filtered in different ways is far more advanced, and its generally easier to control layout.

WordPress is easier in its core area and hard outside, Drupal is moderately more complex in its core area but is definitely more extensible just about everywhere else.

I’ve had several people ask why I don’t use an XML database such as MarkLogic or eXist to host this blog

It’s possible I may – I’ve been working on pipelines that would make a multi-user blog system viable, but it’s still under development, and at least for the moment, there are enough advantages to working with a general purpose Drupal platform to make its use worth the amount of time involved in maintaining it.

I do, however, hope to unveil it within the next six months for a private beta. Until it proves itself out, Drupal seems the best solution.

About XML Today Itself

There’s a sea change going on in the use of XML right now. On the one hand, the rise of XML-based databases in publishing, corporate help systems, archives and government agencies has never been higher, to the extent that XQuery development in particular is in high demand (with comparatively few practitioners).

On the flip side, JSON has assumed the primary mantle for data interchange, to a much greater degree than XML, both because of the ubiquity of Javascript on the web and because many data models are simple enough that the mixed nodal content of XML is overkill.

Meanwhile, new data languages and technologies – map/reduce algorithms and Hadoop, hash-based data systems like MongoDB, RDF triple stores and Sparql – each are contributing to a larger and more robust vision of data processing depending very much upon the degree of semantic richness involved in the data structures themselves.

XML may have opened the door, but each of these technologies have a place in this puzzle.

This means that XML Today has to adapt as well

I’ll be moving farther afield than I have been in these articles – more discussions about things that aren’t necessarily delimited by angle brackets, more focus on the art and science of data modeling, more exploration of the richer ecosystem of which XML itself is only one technology, albeit a foundational one.

Similarly, I expect to focus more on the mobile revolution currently underway and explore how this also fits into data streams and data management.

Conclusion Of All This Blog

Some of this is new to me too, and one role that I see for this site is as a vehicle for exploration. I hope that others are interested in this as well.

I open the door to others to write on subjects of their own choosing, or if you’re interested to reprint articles that you feel need to get a broader exposure. Please feel free to contact me if you want to set up blogging for you.

The existing WordPress articles are still very much available, and I will be migrating these over to the new platform soon.


Beng Huat Khong
Managing Editor, XMLToday.org