History of XML

2014-04-18

In the late 1980s, before the rise of the internet, the various benefits of SGML for dynamic information display were realized by digital media publishers. Experienced SGML and World Wide Web (WWW) users realized that as the web grew, there would be some problems, the solutions to which would be offered by SGML. Therefore to make use of it, SGML was added by Dan Connolly to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) activity list in 1995. Work began in mid 1996, led by Jon Bosak.

XML was compiled by an eleven member working group and a hundred and fifty member interest group. Technical debates were carried out on the interest group mailing list and issues were resolved either by consensus or the working group's majority vote. Michael Sperberg-McQueen compiled design decisions and the theory behind them on December 4, 1997. James Clark was the Technical Lead of the working group, and his contributions include the name "XML" and the empty element syntax. Other names suggested were:

§ MAGMA-Minimal Architecture for Generalized Markup Application.
§ SLIM-Structured Language for Internet Markup
§ MGML-Minimal Generalized Markup Language

Initially the specification co-editors were Tim Brag and Michael Sperberg-McQueen. They were later joined by Jean Paoli as the third co-editor.

The XML was designed using emails and weekly teleconferences, and after twenty weeks (July to November 1996) of hard work and major decisions, the first working draft was released. Designing continued in 1997, and the W3C recommended XML 1.0 on February 10, 1998.

The working group had the following goals:

§ Internet usability
§ SGML compatibility
§ General purpose stability
§ Formality
§ Conciseness
§ Legibility
§ Ease of authoring
§ Minimization of optional features

These goals were achieved by XML 1.0. Since brevity was not essential, XML also included repetition of element identifiers and redundant syntactic constructs.