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XProc: Meta-Programming and Rube Goldberg : Page 4

XProc, the XML Pipeline Language, is designed as a way of describing a set of declarative processes. Learn how XProc neatly solves a number of problems that tend to transcend working with any one single XML operational language.

XProc In the Pipeline
XProc heralds a significant shift in the building of XML pipelines and web applications. The specification itself will likely be out either late in 2008 or early in 2009, and already a few XML database creators are exploring the deployment of XProc within their own systems, either as something that can be invoked from within other processes (such as an XQuery call) or as scriptable entities in their own right. Because of it's declarative nature, it’s also not hard to foresee a point in the near future where XProc will be used to marshal actions across multiple server environments, though this first specification only hints at that vision—in short, XProc has the potential to become a vehicle for larger scale multi-system orchestration.

In the more immediate term, you can get a first glimpse of XProc via prototype implementations listed at http://del.icio.us/ndw/xprocimpl. Some of the steps listed here may not yet be available (the most recent XProc "drop" was May 1, 2008), but the overall form of the specification isn't likely to have changed dramatically. More information about the XProc working draft itself can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/xproc/.

If other standards like XSLT2 and XQuery are any indication, adoption of XProc is likely to be slow at first, given the presence of commercial workflow systems, but like those two standards, adoption should pick up pretty quickly with one or two solid implementations, as XProc neatly solves a number of problems that tend to transcend working with any single XML operational language. Developers are moving to ever larger levels of abstraction as programming moves beyond single processor environments or even standard client/server architectures and it is likely that XProc will be one of the languages leading the charge to that next level.

Kurt Cagle is the managing editor for XMLToday.org and a contributing editor for O'Reilly Media. He is currently working on a book about XBRL. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/kurt_cagle.
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