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Foreword

Foreword

David A. Taylor, Ph.D.

The world turns faster than it used to. As recently as a decade ago, you could afford to ignore new technologies for a few years and let them mature. If they proved themselves in the market, they earned your attention. Now time is measured in Internet years, and new technologies can become standards before you even recognize their names.

So it is with XML. If you think XML is just for techies, or aren't sure what it is, you're already behind the curve. XML—the Extensible Markup Language—is the new standard for exchanging data electronically. It's brought to you by the same people who gave you the World Wide Web. Like the Web, it's about to transform your business.

At its simplest, XML is a better way of organizing Web content. But it' s so much more than that! Would you like to give your corporate customers machine-readable specs on all your products? XML is the right tool for the job. Want to accept and validate complex, multiline orders over the Internet? XML will handle that, too. Need to integrate incompatible applications across your company? Combine information from inconsistent databases? Develop software that operates entirely over the Internet? XML will help you do all these things faster, better, and cheaper. This book will show you how.

XML is both elegant and deep. That poses a challenge; the elegance can quickly get lost in the depth. Like XML, this book is both elegant and deep. It conveys the essence of XML in a way that managers will easily understand and remember, then provides a practical guide to adoption. From its panoramic overview to its detailed roadmaps, the book both defines the territory and helps readers find their way within it.

An XML document arranges information in a hierarchy that allows readers—human and electronic—to understand the patterns in that information and to access it selectively. The document you hold in your hands does the same thing. From the executive briefings at the head of each chapter down to the fast-track summaries beside each paragraph, this book epitomizes structured access to information.

I take particular pleasure in the structure of this book because it is modeled after one of my own. I must have done something right; more than ten years after I wrote the first edition of Object Technology: A Manager's Guide, managers continue to buy it in bulk. Since that time, other authors have published books about technology with "Manager's Guide" in their titles. Some of these are fine books, but none of them so fully realizes the goals I set for the original manager's guide as does this one.

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