"XML arose from the recognition that key components of the
original web infrastructure -- HTML tagging, simple hypertext
linking, and hardcoded presentation -- would not scale up
to meet the future needs of the web."
HTML has brought the contents of Internet to our desktop.
It is simple, open, and universal. For whatever it is,
HTML has served us well.
From the very outset, HTML was designed to format web
documents on display or printing devices. On a given
page, text alignment, graphics objects, tables, forms,
colors, links, and many others are formatted using its
tags and document structure.
Any HTML document isn't expected to describe
its contents. It doesn't even have any idea what the
meanings of its contents are. Its only concern is
telling browsers how the contents should be rendered.
As the need for better control of information surpasses
the presentation boundary, it was quite clear for some in
W3C, that HTML was not up to the task.
HTML's short-comings are rooted in the language being only
a presentation markup language. It doesn't allow a
definition of new tags nor modification of the existing
ones. No doubt, this has been a good thing to keep the
language intact and open, but its limitation has been
severe. In an open environment, it was not good enough.
XML documents, on the other hand, can describe themselves.
They do so with any of the world's languages supported in
Unicode 2.0. The meaning of their description is neutral
of any platform. They have flexible structures enforced by
XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a recommended
specification of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). In
fact, XML is a meta-language. It is designed for the creation
of a markup language similar to HTML with stricter
requirements. XML is open, inter-operable, and most importantly
simple. As it has been touted as the next big thing in Internet,
it has been also equally embraced by the industry.
Technically speaking, we should note here however, as one
steps into the world of XML, one cannot help, but be a bit
overwhelmed by a set of specifications including XML Schema,
XLink, XPointer, XPath, XSL, and more. Each of these
specifications provides its own solution to a particular
Ethiopic and XML
The sole purpose of this theme is to enhance XML awareness
among ourselves. Why? Because we have numerous problems which
we can solve elegantly using XML. There is also one urgent
problem: XML's lack of support to Ethiopic.
The current specification XML 1.0 (Edition 2.0)
exclusively supports Unicode 2.0. This fixation prevents
a definition of markup languages using characters that
were adopted in Unicode 3.0 and later. It doesn't, however,
forbids those characters from being used as content.
If an XML document implements elements, attributes, or
entities defined using characters that are not in Unicode 2.0,
it will not be a well-formed XML document.
As a result, we cannot use Ethiopic characters to create a
markup language which allows a well-formed document; because
Ethiopic characters were not included in Unicode 2.0, but
Recently, there has been an initiative aided by the W3C
working group called XML Blueberry Requirement, which
proposes to amend XML 1.0 for the use of the Unicode 3.1
characters. The draft is available for public comments and
those who have keen interest may shape its future by
XML is Here to Stay
It was around 1994-1995 that several web pages on Ethiopia
started to appear on Internet. Since then a lot of pages have
come and gone. They belong to students, software developers,
various groups, interested individuals, and others. The
interest that had generated such enthusiasm and energy
is on the rise again for XML.
Internet as we know it today in the form of only HTML will fade
gradually if XML succeed. The massive information out there
will have another layer which would be capable of describing
it. It seems that is where we are heading. With good conscious,
we cannot ignore XML. Either we have to step to it, or it will.
Contents of this piece
This theme is a brief introduction to XML. It presents a
short Amharic tutorial on XML, an Amharic translation of the
XML FAQ from Peter Flynn, Amharic XML glossary, and a list
of XML resources on the Internet.
All the Amharic documents are provided in HTML, PDF,
and PostScript formats. The HTML documents require an
Ethiopic Unicode font and the user may download it from
You may also download