XML FAQ in Amharic

XML Overview



"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."

--Jon Bosak

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[1].

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 tightening rules.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a recommended specification of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)[2]. 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 problem.

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[3].

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 version 3.0.

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 participating.

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[4].

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 http://www.senamirmir.org. You may also download PDF Reader or GSView viewer, for PostScript.

[1] http://java.sun.com/xml/birth_of_xml.html
[2] http://www.w3.org/XML/
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/xml-blueberry-req
[4] http://www.ucc.ie/xml/

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