These days, nothing truly seems to be new but just a rehash of something old. Just last week, I was looking at someone’s screen full of XML (extensible markup language) code and it dawned on me that, for all the exciting talk in the last twenty or so years about markup languages that they’re actually quite old.

Just one example that I know of is Runoff language (.RNO file extension). I looked around the internet but I can’t find out just how old Runoff is. Runoff is what we used before we had what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) tools to edit and print our text. Thus, if you wanted to print a title in bold font, you would turn on the bold, put in your title, and turn off the bold (all with code – Runoff language).

In any case, languages such as HTML (hyper-text markup language), XML and SHTML (SSI-enabled HTML) seem relatively new and still full of promise, but the concept is an old one.

By the way,  in my search for the age of Runoff, I did find that there are people in the year 2015 still trying to do conversions to take Runoff (.RNO extension) files and convert them into other formats. So, that does mean that some of you still have some of these files around.

As for rehashing old things, like markup languages, quite possibly, the old thing was fine but the new thing is not just a rehash of the old one but possibly improved in some way (one would hope). On the other hand, and as we too-often discover, newer isn’t necessarily better.

As someone just pointed-out to me, though, some of the “old” languages are more powerful than the WYSIWYG tools. Maybe returning to those types of tools seems like a flash back to the past but possibly we’re realizing that writing the code isn’t much worse than struggling with endless configurations that just don’t work 100% the way the need to.

As with anything, though, these things go in and out of fashion and our industry tends to jump on these bandwagons regardless whether we’ve been-there-done-that, before. Any change appears to be a good change to a person or company who is frustrated with what they have to work with.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

4 Thoughts to “Markup Languages”

  1. Your statement: “Any change appears to be a good change to a person or company who is frustrated with what they have to work with.” is so true.

    1. On further thought, though, I do also run into customers who are terribly frustrated but won’t change fearing things could be worse.

  2. Floppy Giraffe

    Remember the old WordStar from the 1970’s? That had formatting codes and was kinda sorta not-really whizzy wig. LOL

    1. Another blast from the past is WordPerfect. The older versions let you edit the markup language even though you had buttons for things like bold/unbold. I was traumatized when they took away that ability but, true to what they said, the newer versions didn’t need it. Although, come to think of it, even now MS Word gets a bit funky with it’s formatting depending what you do.

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