What is XML, and Why Should You Care?--McIlroy
This is the Holy Grail for publishers—the ability to publish quickly and dynamically to multiple media, without having to hire a troop of designers to rework each paragraph or page by hand.
There's another reason publishers are getting excited about XML. Because it's a kind of database, a text file can include data about the file, rather than just the text and pictures themselves.
Let's say a publisher wanted to specify that a QuarkXPress file should be printed four-color in a quantity of 10,000, trimmed and bound saddled-stitched, and then shipped by next Friday to its Chicago warehouse. All of those instructions could also be coded with XML tags, and included in the same file with the QuarkXPress graphic data. The possibility for error declines, as the efficiency increases. The possibilities for full print automation expand rapidly.
Why Isn't XML Everywhere?
So if XML has all of these powerful features, why is it not already in use everywhere? There are several reasons.
First of all, it's very new. The full specifications for the format are still under review (although a partial specification is now available). With the specifications still in flux, the available software tools are few, far-between and pricey. Mainstream software like PageMaker and QuarkXPress has little or no XML support. XML remains complicated, and we've seen again and again that the market moves slowly when technology gets complex.
When I talk to people who are familiar with XML, I find that they divide into one of two camps.
The first group, let's call them The Technophiles, love the promise and power of XML, and feel that it's just a matter of time (and not too much time) before XML is widely supported and widely adopted.
The second group, let's call them the Once-burned, Twice-shy group, think that XML will find limited adoption, and even that it will take a long time to develop.