On Language Creation

Tim Bray

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Abstract:

Next year, the notion of building your own markup language for your own application, while still conforming to a standard, will be 20 years old. During that twenty years, a huge number of custom languages — at least hundreds, perhaps a couple of thousand — have been attempted. Almost all have been miserable failures. That is to say, the vast majority have failed to achieve wide adoption, and those that were adopted have often failed to achieve their goals, whether of reducing costs, enriching applications, or both. This paper examines this history of failure and draws conclusions about the decision process as to whether to proceed with language design, and, in the case that the design of a new language is undertaken, the trade-offs that obtain during that process.

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Keywords: XML (Extensible Markup Language)0.8;

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