It's the Data, Stupid

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Micah Dubinko

Micah Dubinko
May. 02, 2004 09:24 PM

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I finally have a personal content management system that lets me access the data, even when the software isn't running.

More than a little inspired by Danny O'Brien's Life Hacks talk at ETech, and using more than a little of David Mertz's public domain code from Text Processing in Python, I finally took a first major path towards the Brain Attic concept I first wrote about in this very weblog.

A funny thing happened on the way to XML, though. It turns out that plain old text is a better format for writing, and reading (which happens much more often). As an author and editor of the XForms specification, I don't say this lightly. Your favorite text editor is the greatest productivity tool there is.

All my important textual data--my working (and searching) set--is now spread out over a tree of intelligently named directories. All *.txt files. I can move to any OS and be instantly productive. I can easily copy these files to my iPod or any other PDA.

I have scripts to convert structured text to XHTML, suitable for printing or, say, submitting a manuscript. I have scripts and XSLT to produce a weblog and RSS feed from a text file (now active, check it out).

XML is, of course, still important, and as long as people need to edit XML, they'll need XForms. But something more fundamental, something missed by practically every existing piece of software, is the most important thing:

It's the data, stupid.

Micah Dubinko served as an editor and author of the XForms 1.0 W3C specification. Micah is the author of XForms Essentials, and is available for consulting.