Computer Stuff

Friday, November 8, 2002

Update: The code shows up now. I think I proved my point. :-)

Slashdot today had a link to the Interface Hall of Shame. A good place to visit for anybody who designs UIs, or for people who like to laugh about how frustrating computers are. Where I work, we recently overhauled the interface for our customer information software. We eliminated the 20+ tabs in favor of a tree structure. The response from the users has been favorable.

I was intrigued when I heard about this: SportsML, a form of XML designed for reporting on sports events. I like the idea, but after looking at it, I’m not impressed by the implementation. If you look at the examples, you see that most of the data is stored in attributes of the tags. Like this:

<event-metadata event-key="g.12312451" start-date-time="2001-09-22T14:00" site-key="s.14" site-name="Madison Square Garden" site-source="" event-status="mid-event"><event-metadata-ice-hockey period-value="3" period-time-remaining="02:00" /></event-metadata>

If you’ll notice, there’s no actual content between the tags, it’s all embedded within the tags. In my opinion, part of the power of XML is the ability to provide content accessible to all UAs. In theory, an advanced UA would be able to load the DTD, load any style sheets, and display the document as it is meant to be. Less advanced UAs would simply ignore the tags they did not understand and display the raw data in between the tags. It might not look good, but at least the information would be available. Of course, tagging all of that data would be very messy, so maybe this way is better. It just doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of XML.