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XML in Action : Page 7

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Interview with ...

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XML is all about separating design from content...

Macromedia is offering XML parsing support in its web editing tool Dreamweaver 2.0. In December 1998 we spoke with Paul Madar, Macromedia's Vice President of Engineering, about the new Dreamweaver and Macromedia's vision of XML publishing.

Q: Do you think XML will catch on with developers?

It's off to an energizing start, it's going to make an impact on the Web but it remains to be seen how long it'll take to catch on.

Q: What types of support and products are necessary to get the ball rolling on XML?

That depends on what people ultimately want to use XML for; what the problem is that needs solving. There are a number of possible applications of XML, and they each need different types of servers/tools to help you realize a total solution. And yes, Dreamweaver's capabilities just play one part in the production.

Q: Why did you include XML support in Dreamweaver?

We've always consulted a group of folks that span the gamut of HTML authoring and used their input to create each version of Dreamweaver. Some of these are hard-core folks who were jumping on CSS just as it got out of the gate, and are now doing the same with XML.

When the day is done, a number of our customers want to play with the future of the Web - learn new tricks that'll make their pages come more alive tomorrow. That's why we try to add some forward-looking features like CSS over a year ago, and XML today.

Q: What are some of the XML features in Dreamweaver 2.0?

Our support revolves round-trip XML. Dreamweaver 2 allows you to open an XML file, it allows custom property inspectors, and has an XML character set which you can add to or change...it needed to be extensible, since in XML there are an arbitrary number of tags. It also gives you the ability to author XML, as well as XML parsing capability.

XML is all about separating design from content, and since Dream Templates (templates in Dreamweaver that allow only new content to be edited) separate design from content, information from templates can be exported as XML. XML content can also be imported into Dreamweaver templates.

Q: Where do you think XML in general is headed?

Ahhh, my chance at greatness if I predict the future! The hard-liners say that XML will replace HTML. While it's possible, there's a ways to go before that's a reality.

XML inside of HTML isn't yet a real standard, but it may be a more conservative approach -- make certain parts of the page more digestible for machines, while maintaining backward compatibility with the current infrastructure.

I suppose it's possible for folks to just ignore XML, but I don't think that'll happen -- XML is a fine format for storing data in an open fashion which is why we use it in several Dreamweaver configuration files.

My iron clad prediction: whatever path XML takes as it grows, develops, and finds its way into designers toolkits, if designers seriously want to use it to create webpages, Macromedia and Dreamweaver will support it. Our business is helping creative people spend less time doing drudge work, and more time creating. Everyone here agrees that listening to our customers and adding the features they ask for is the best way to achieve that.

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