James Clark Adds His ‘Meh’ to the XML/JSON Debate

Jessica Thornsby

Twitter and Foursquare may be deprecating XML, but the XML community isn’t worried.

Last week, Norman Walsh reacted with a
resounding “meh”
to the news that high-profile services Twitter
and Foursquare will be removing XML support from their web APIs. He
took the level-headed stance that XML has the edge over JSON in
some areas, and JSON has the edge over XML in others, and users
should opt for the tool that’s best suited to their project. Now,
James Clark has backed him up with the argument that if XML is what
you’re experienced in and good at, then the news that Twitter and
Foursquare have jumped off the XML wagon, won’t have you dropping
XML anytime soon. Likewise, if most of your work involves mixed
content, then XML is still going to be the tool for you.

For Clark, XML wins in the areas of non-binary data formats,
open standard data formats, data longevity and reuse, and
seperating presentation from content. He believes JSON is better
than XML when it comes to providing a programming
language-independent representation of typical programming language
data structures. If a a tool surpasses XML, he will be “happy
rather than worried,” but he doesn’t think that day has come

Clark picks fault with Walsh’s theory that XML’s main purpose is
to solve the problem of unstructured data, pointing out that the
average web developer’s immediate response to mixed content, is
HTML. Therefore, he says that “appealing to mixed content is not
going to convince the average Web developer of the value of

So, what does he see XML’s role in the future of web
development? He wants to see HMTL5’s compatibility with XML being
developed, by building the XML stack to create technologies that
can work natively with HTML, JSON and JavaScript, and “bring to the
broader Web developer community some of the good aspects of the
modern XML development experience.” The current trend may be
veering towards HTML5, JavaScript and JSON, but that doesn’t mean
XML is licked just yet.

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