SGML turns 20

by Rick Jelliffe

The big dates for SGML are 1986, when the IS 8879 standard finally was published; 1990, when editor Charles Goldfarb's annotated version The SGML Handbook came out, and 1996 when XML was mooted at the SGML '96 conference. Charles once told me that when IS 8879 first came out, they half expected it to take over the world; only to be utterly mystifyingly held back by WYSIWYG, which stole the usability thunder from SGML. Well, after 20 years, "WYSIWYG is dead" and markup is king. Or, at least, WYSIWYG now uses styles and flexible window sizing, and SGML has succeeded by abandoning the Wiki-like markup feataures.