How to cite this paper

Cowan, John. “MicroXML: Who, What, Where, When, Why.” Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2012, Montréal, Canada, August 7 - 10, 2012. In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2012. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 8 (2012).

Balisage: The Markup Conference 2012
August 7 - 10, 2012

Balisage Paper: MicroXML: Who, What, Where, When, Why

John Cowan


John Cowan works for LexisNexis, which he calls "$EMPLOYER". On his 2011 tax returns, he listed his occupation as "ontologist". He pushed both XML 1.1 and XML 1.0 Fifth Edition through the W3C XML Core Working Group, of which he somehow remains a member (likewise of the Unicode Consortium). He also hangs out on numerous mailing lists and blogs, masquerading on the A forum as the expert on B and and on the B forum as the expert on A. His friends say that he knows at least something about almost everything; his enemies, that he knows far too much about far too much.

Copyright © 2012 John Cowan. Licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.


MicroXML began at the end of 2010 when James Clark wanted to explore a subset of XML. MicroXML wasn't intended to replace XML, but to make something simple enough that people who ran screaming from XML would find it palatable. MicroXML is to XML as XML is to SGML: strip down the spec to the bare bones and start over, adding back as little as possible. James wrote a brief grammar and a really simple data model: everything is an element with a name, an attribute map, and ordered children, either elements or strings. In 2011, I wrote an Editor's Draft that expanded James's writeup to ten pages, corresponding to the 100 pages of XML, namespaces, infoset, xml:base, and xml:id. Now a Community Group at the W3C, chaired by Uche Ogbuji and with James and me as co-editors, is discussing exactly what MicroXML should be.