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From Donald Ball <>
Subject Re: Is Cocoon going to be harmful for XML?
Date Thu, 11 May 2000 00:32:53 GMT
On Wed, 10 May 2000, Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:

> But I have a question that wonders around my head: isn't Cocoon a hack?
> aren't hacks dangerous in the long term?

Maybe, but carefully engineered systems hardly ever get off the ground,
and even if they do, they'll almost inevitably encounter situations that
they couldn't have been engineered for. Hacks evolve.

>                   ------------------- o ------------------
> While server side transformations allow new formats to be "adapted" to
> older clients that do not support these formats, there is a great risk
> that, having this type of transformation capabilities on the server
> side, there will be less "pulsion" to the creation of XML-capable
> clients.

Stefano, in the real world, we're still supporting 3.0 clients and at
least paying lip service to supporting 2.0 clients. Doing XSLT server-side
is necessary, now and for years into the future.

> Also, it is very likely that in a few years, the percentage of http
> requests made from embedded devices will skyrocket, expecially with the
> advent of 3G cell phones (a.k.a. UMTS) which allow per-traffic fees,
> rather than current digital wireless networks which only allow per-time
> fees.

The CPU power of these devices may make it more efficient to do the
transformations server-side anyway.

> The Cocoon project (and my college thesis) would like to propose an
> alternative way of removing scalability saturation by using the concept
> of "separation of concerns", thus allowing both little-granular
> highly-distributed information systems and centralized ones to be
> successful on a scalability base.
> On the other hand, there is a big danger in this: scalability saturation
> kept the web distributed, thus allowing it to be more free and more
> liberal for both social and economic reasons.
> What happens if this limitation is removed and sites can grow linearly
> with the resources involved, but acquire payments in more than that
> rate?
> Would the web become another oligarchy, just like broadcasting channels
> (Radio/TV)?

That's happening to some extent anyway. The top ten web sites account for
90% of web traffic or something like that. That's sociological, though,
not technical.

> Or, more probably, they could make them paria and create two networks:
> the network of the rich and the network of the poor.
>                   ------------------- o ------------------
> Is XML going to be the network of the rich? No, because both the
> knowledge and the software to create it are as free as air, but problems
> start to raise if big sites start to exchange information using
> proprietary DTDs, start using RDF-based search engines and so forth.

Knowing very little about RDF, I can't comment much on this section. Allow
me to defend cocoon in general though:

* something has to handle the URI to XML mapping
* something has to include data from secure information sources - I don't
want the general public poking around my SQL databases
* something has to do XSLT transformations on the server for stupid

- donald

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