Archives / 2003 / April
  • Don Box on Evolution

    Don Box:
    Old stuff gets older.
    New stuff replaces it.
    Even XML will eventually be overtaken by something else.
    When this stops happening, I'm changing professions.
    Well sometimes things just work. Then, unless "fashion" matters, they don't change. Either the thing reaches a level of simplicity that can't be improved upon (seen any new designs for coat hangers lately?) or they become so entrenched that only a major industry shift will have any effect on their dominance.
    An example of the latter would be TCP/IP. It just works. We got it right and now the level of focus is on secondary things -- appliances to interpret and route it, encryption, and so on. Even as addressing migrates to IPv6, the mechanics don't change all that much, just the size of the address space. It amounts to a new feature, conceptually closer to making int32 available in addition to int16, not so much like the jump from IPX/SPX to TCP/IP, or from CISC to RISC where designers need to change their language entirely.
    XML is one of those things that is is general enough it probably won't change all that much, though our tools for manipulating and expressing it will. It is inherently flexible and already proven useful whatever the culture, character set, industry, or methodology it is applied to. It just works.
    The boundary of focus was once the PC, then the network, then the WAN, then the Internet. Next it's about connecting the Internet to mobile devices and everyday objects.
    At the same time, business has moved from connecting PCs to connecting the Enterprise to connecting companies with XML and next will be about communication among industries.
    When the boundaries stop moving, then I'll change professions. Don, in the meantime, save a seat by the pool.
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