Chapter 4. Introduction on communicating with a vocabulary written in XML


"Apathy: If We Don't Take Care of the Customer, Maybe They'll Stop Bugging Us" - de-motivational poster

Table of Contents
Internet technology as a possible new solution
General working of XML
Making an XML vocabulary

XML is a major building stone for this research project and therefore deserves a chapter of it's own.

The first section sums up the advantages of the Internet for communication. A deficit of the current Internet is the lack of information about what is communicated. In the second section, XML (eXtendible Markup Language) is introduced as a means to communicate something and at the same time including information about what is communicated. This means that computers will be able to "talk" to each other meaningfully. The third section describes how to create a vocabulary enabling communication. Appendix A contains a much more detailed explanation of XML and related technologies, skipped in this chapter to keep it compact.

Internet technology as a possible new solution

The Internet is a technology that fulfils much of the need for a usable communication medium:

There is, however, one problem: the way the Internetpages currently are made. The only information now contained within the pages is the actual text and images and information on how to display it. This means that a human can read a page and is able to determine that the third paragraph is about a certain type of bricks that can be bought. But no computer will be able to determine which words distinguish product names, which addresses, etc. Currently, it is all about presentation of information for reading by the human eye.

What is needed is electronic communication along the lines of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange, the section called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in Chapter 2), exchanging information (almost) without human intervention, automating away the parts where human attention is not needed.