The web is fragmenting as sites are being written for an increasing number of platforms. But XML is set to glue the pieces back together, experts said this week.
At the ninth international World Wide Web conference that ended in Amsterdam today, the 1400 delegates heard how the increasing number of devices such as handhelds, mobile phones, PDAs and wireless information devices had split the web.
Subtitled 'The Web: the Next Generation', the conference offered a forum to anyone seriously interested in the web. It is organised by the major web-centric organisations, such as the governing body W3C and ISOC (The Internet Society).
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, belives the next trend will be "the semantic web", in which all sites will understand all other sites, but not on a point-to-point basis such as EDI.
XML will allow greater communication between sites, aided by Resource Description Format (RDF), the other buzzword at the conference. RDF is the standard that has been proposed by W3C as a new standard for describing all the elements on a page in a way programs can read.
Charles Davies of Psion was one of the speakers who emphasised the extent of the fragmentation as a result of all the new devices with new standards.
Other interesting developments presented at the conference were the certainty of a totally ubiquitous web. Any machine with any intelligence at all will be hooked up soon, according to Philips' Digital Networks' Paul de Bot in his keynote.
A plethora of papers was presented. Of note was the Japanese Automated Pricing for Websites, where the program adapts the price to the numbers of visitors and sales. There some 200 poster presentations in the lobbies, with an Italian winner proposing to add sounds to servers, so the systems engineer can hear instantly what's going wrong.
Next year the conference will be held in Hong Kong.
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