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(please repost as appropriate)
 
 
                      XML 1.0 Is Official
 
 
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the publication of
the Extensible Markup Language (XML) as a W3C Recommendation (text of
press release at http://www.w3.org/Press/1998/XML10-REC). The Text
Encoding Initiative greets this development as a major milestone in the
development of a network infrastructure usable for literary, linguistic,
historical, and other text-based research.
 
XML is a simplified subset of the Standard Generalized Markup Language
(SGML), the international standard on which the TEI's encoding scheme is
based.  XML is simpler than SGML, which means that it will be easier to
develop tools to support XML than to support full SGML.  For all
practical purposes, however, XML has the same expressive power as SGML.
This means that texts encoded according to the TEI Guidelines can be
used readily, after a simple mechanical process of normalization, in an
XML environment.
 
With XML and the related standards XLL and XSL (now being developed by
W3C work groups), the World Wide Web will gain the flexibility long
known to users of SGML: the ability to use different tag sets for
different purposes or different kinds of material.  At the same time,
XML preserves the simplicity of design and implementation which has done
so much to ensure the success of the Web.
 
A great deal of the interest in XML is commercial in nature, and many
believe that XML will play a key role in making Web-based electronic
commerce feasible.  But that is not its only importance.  Susan Hockey,
a member of the TEI's steering committee and the former secretary of the
Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing, commented that "XML
will be extremely important not only for commercial exploitation of the
Internet, but for research at all levels and in all fields: personal,
educational, and professional.  Everyone interested in the digital
preservation and use of knowledge will find, in XML, a powerful new
tool."
 
Allen Renear, the new President of the Association for Computers and
the Humanities (and the head of the Scholarly Technology Group at
Brown University) summarized the importance of XML to the humanities
very bluntly: "XML will make digital libraries possible."
 
The TEI--and thus, indirectly, also the TEI's major funding agency,
the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal
agency--has provided significant support for the development of XML:
its North American editor (the poster of this message), serves as a
co-editor of the XML specification, together with Tim Bray of
Textuality and Jean Paoli of Microsoft.  And the TEI's European
editor, Lou Burnard, serves as a member of the XML Special Interest
Group, which is responsible for clarifying the technical issues before
action is taken by the XML Working Group.  The TEI is currently
preparing for the possible revision of the TEI markup scheme to make
it formally XML compliant; some TEI users have already begun
experimenting with XML versions of the TEI document type definitions.
 
"The wide adoption of XML by existing SGML vendors, Web software
providers, and academic software developers will make the use of TEI
encoding significantly easier: TEI users will have more and easier
access to off-the-shelf tools for multilingual data preparation,
linguistic annotation, and network distribution," said Judith Klavans,
the Director of the Center for Research on Information Access at
Columbia University, who represents the Association for Computational
Linguistics on the TEI steering committee.
 
Most important, we expect TEI users to be among the first and most
enthusiastic adopters of this new W3C Recommendation.  David Chesnutt,
the coordinator of the Model Editions Partnership and a long-time TEI
participant and user, said recently that XML is important because it
will let scholarly audiences have different views of the same document,
on the Web.  Julia Flanders, Textbase Editor at the Brown University
Women Writers Project, said in response to a query, "XML is the answer
to every academic text encoder's prayers."
 
XML is a great step forward for everyone interested in the digital
preservation of our cultural heritage or in computer-assisted
research into human language and human texts.  The TEI is
happy to be part of it.
 
 
-C. M. Sperberg-McQueen
 Senior Research Programmer, University of Illinois at Chicago
 Editor, ACH/ACL/ALLC Text Encoding Initiative
 Co-coordinator, Model Editions Partnership
 
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