XML Rock Band


OK, it’s Friday, time for a little goofiness. Well, a little more goofiness than the other 6 days of the week.

XML.

XML XML XML XML XML XML XML XML XML.

I am so bloody sick of XML. Why, you ask? Isn’t XML going to save the publishing industry? Isn’t it going to make possible the workflow of our dreams: author once, output everywhere? Isn’t it going to fix the economy and halt global warming and bring the Red Sox another World Series? Yes, it will do all those things, at least according to the true believers. And they may be right. But I still have something stuck in my craw about working with XML.

It’s not the syntax, it’s not the rules, it’s not the smart people doing amazing stuff with it, it’s not the tools… OK, yes, it is the tools. I have been disappointed by every XML tool I’ve ever used, including the implementation of XML in InDesign. I’ve never seen one tool that elegantly (or even adequately) bridged the gap between coder and designer. I have sat in enough XML demos and seminars watching the faces of designers and writers. Reactions range from horror to disgust to utter befuddlement to resignation that if they want to keep their jobs they have to suck it up and deal. Some seem like you just told them they will now have to ride a unicycle while juggling chainsaws at work. Only the science editors warmed to the task, and they don’t count because they’re part geek anyway.

I am still waiting to see a piece of off-the-shelf software harness the power of XML for publishing. And I don’t mean publishing aircraft maintenance manuals, or medical journals. I mean big full-color glossy magazines and customized middle school math textbooks.

I want something that is as smartly designed as the Creative Suite, and as chock full of geek coding power as XMLSpy. I want a clean, minimal interface and extensive well-written documentation. And I want to have FUN dammit. Maybe I want the impossible. Maybe the task and not the tools are to blame. Tagging is a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Still, every kid on the Web nowadays slaps tags over all the content they produce and they don’t seem too pained.

Wait a minute, that’s it! The kids are all right. The answer was right in front of me all along.

Ladies and gentlemen put your hands together and give a warm Publicious welcome to…

XML Rock Band! (PDF)

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