Why Specs Matter and When are We Going to Get a Good One?

by admin on May 13, 2009

Oh my, I have been somewhat vocal in saying JDF hasn't lived up to the hype (well, there used to be hype about the spec). It's probably because the Architecture Astronauts gotten ahold of the whole process and didn't deign to do the tough work necessary to make truly open and useful.

By the way, you should follow the link on Architecture Astronauts. Joel writes a delightful blog that is filled with fascinating insights and useful information that is relevant even to non-programmers (If you are already a programmer, you probably know about Joel).

But we should we care? Well I don't know if you do, but I have been spending the last two weeks migrating a five-year-old website from a 5 year-old PHP-Mysql script to WordPress. And oh yeah, it's got a lot of PDF files too that I wouldn't mind importing into WordPress as well. So I have rummaging around some techie corners of the internet looking for useful information on XML, and I did find Rankin's ongoing project with XML over at Publicious. But I'm an apps guys, not a coder. As Mike himself admits, a lot of XML conversion apps have a bit of duct tape slapped on, and you still need a coder nearby.

Now, if you are still with me (and considering I am talking about XML, I suspect that readers who have gotten this far now number in the single digits), I would like to make a case that This Stuff Actually Matters:

Yes, it's actually a company that is trying to make money off digitizing old yearbooks. So they must be grabbing PDFs (or Postscript, or scanning old yearbooks) and throwing them up on the web. Is this time-intensive? Is this a frustrating task? I'll bet it is, unless they have developed an in-house PDF (or Postscript, or tagged images) to SQL-HTML website converter that automates a lot of this work.

Or to put it another way, somebody is trying to make coin off old data, you know, the type of data sitting in the archives of commercial printers all over North America. A universal XML machine able to convert data between print and the internet would be just the ticket to make monetization easier.

When are we going to get one?

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