The opening keynote from SVG Open

Taken from Kurt Cagle's presentation at SVG Open 2005The Future of SVG and the Web

I think a few of us (okay, maybe all of us) wish that this process was going faster, but its worth putting things into perspective. Two years ago, I had to explain to most programmers I worked with what SVG was. A year ago, I had to explain to most non-programmers I worked with what SVG was. Today, companies are hiring SVG developers, SVG is on our phones, is moving into our browsers, is appearing in embedded display systems on our trains and planes. This did not happen in a vacuum. It occurred because you took the message of SVG, of open standards, into your workplace, into your schools, into your government offices.

And thats the only the start. Kurt later runs through different points which he feels add to the changing landscape of the net. One of the key points I feel is his one about the rise of domain experts and platform independence.

Rise of Domain Experts, Not Programmers. XGUI based systems separate the abstract representation of applications from their implementation, which means that increasingly (likely using tools) specialized programmers will be replaced by domain expert non-programmers. This is already happening in fields like GIS. GUIs for designing such XGUI applications will similarly look more like flash editing tools or web layout tools with a few “access points” into scripting exceptions than they will complex IDEs. This doesn't make programmers obsolete, but it does increasingly push them into a component developer role.

Data/Platform/Language Independence. XML is increasingly abstracting the form of data access, turning complex and arcane queries (and updates) against LDAP servers, SQL databases, web services, mail services and so forth away from dissonant technologies and towards common XML ones. XML based XGUIs abstract the underlying platform interfaces and turn them increasingly into XML-oriented virtual machines that can degrade gracefully in the face of more limited capabilities, and makes such religious issues as Java vs. C++ vs. C# vs. flavor of the month language irrelevant – you use what works on the system to implement the abstraction. This doesn't eliminate the need for software – you still need to have those component implementations, and many of them may be extraordinarily complex and specialized in the back end, but it goes a long way toward eliminating the need for re-engineering the 90% of actions that we still do using the web now, from gaming to e-commerce to communication.

I have to say this is key! XSLT is so powerful once your able to get everything down to a XML level. Proprietary ways are moving aside while bridge applications are being used to open the data into XML. I actually remember when I first started using Cocoon and my fear was that there would not be enough XML sources to really make use of its ability. Boy was I wrong. I'm seeing lots of new web API's built on a RESTful interface, Bridge Apps for IM, email, newsgroups and even operating system information stored and generated in XML. SVG adoption has indeed been slow but its growing and it will be just another common place namespace.

Its well worth reading the whole of Kurts entry yourself, I actually found it quite moving….

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and