Leading Perl and XML (Extensible Markup Language) developers met recently at O'Reilly & Associates to plan a way for Perl, the popular Web programming language, and XML, the hottest Web mark-up technology, to work together. Attending the Perl/XML Summit were: Larry Wall, creator of Perl, and senior developer, O'Reilly & Associates Tim Bray, co-editor of the XML 1.0 specification and independent consultant Dick Hardt, developer of Perl for Win 32, and Chief Technology Officer, ActiveState Tool Corp. Tim O'Reilly, President and CEO, O'Reilly & Associates Dale Dougherty, CEO, Songline Studios Gina Blaber, Director, Software Products Group, O'Reilly & Associates. One major goal resulted from the summit: to make Perl the scripting language of choice for processing XML. As Perl support for XML increases, it is expected, in turn, to make XML more accessible. "XML is currently perceived as powerful and important, but not particularly easy," explains Larry Wall. "This makes XML and Perl naturally complementary, since Perl is a language that makes easy things easy to do, and hard things possible." One of the summit group's first priorities is to get Perl working with Unicode (ISO 1046). Unicode enables code to be easily translated into other languages; XML requires Unicode. Larry Wall will lead the team working on this task. "In the design of XML, we were continuously mindful of the need to enable the fast, efficient creation of scripts and programs for processing XML," says Tim Bray. "Perl is the Web's pre-eminent text processing tool, and it's really great that the leaders of the Perl community are going to meet us halfway on this." "For many of us in the XML effort, the most important goal is to increase the proportion of the world's documents stored in open, non-proprietary formats," Bray continues. "Building slick XML processing into Perl makes the use of such formats more rewarding and helps frustrate the efforts of those who would imprison human knowledge behind the barbed-wire of proprietary file formats." A number of Perl/XML activities will take occur over the next few months, according to Gina Blaber. The group plans to release a Perl/XML spec in Q3, 1998. There will be a new Web site for XML, hosted by O'Reilly/Songline Studios with content from Tim Bray and Seybold Corporation. Larry Wall and Tim Bray are co-authoring an XML white paper, to be released this spring. Larry Wall and Dick Hardt will speak on Perl and XML at XML Developer's Day, a technical conference for XML developers in Seattle on March 27, 1998.

About XML A subset of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), XML is similar to HTML in that it uses tags. But XML communicates information about the structure of a document, rather than the look of it, as HTML does. That structural information is the key to a wide range of applications for which XML is already being used. XML is not proprietary, meaning a document's information and structure will function in a true cross-platform manner. XML was recently approved by W3C, the consortium of Web heavyweights, and is expected to have great impact on the rapid spread of electronic commerce.

About Perl Perl is currently the most popular technology for turning Web pages from a collection of static documents into dynamic information applications. Easy-to-use, efficient, flexible and strong, the cross-platform programming language can run dynamic Web sites, databases, and CGI applications, perform system management tasks, and scan, extract information from, and print reports about text files. Widely available on the Internet since 1989, Perl's active developer community regularly contributes tools and extensions to Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN), numerous online groups, and sites such as http://www.perl.com. O'Reilly & Associates' "Programming Perl," written by Larry Wall, was one of the best-selling programming books of 1997.