This paper was submitted for publication and is copyright to Barry Schaeffer© 2005.
Published here May 2006.

Editor's Note | Introduction | First Things First | The Heart of Today's Effort
Markup Protocols | Pressure to Produce | The Consumer Side is the Most Important
Holistic Markup Design | Stakeholder Involvement

Barry Schaeffer is President of X.Systems. Inc, a consulting and system development firm specializing in the conception and design of text-based information systems. During his forty-year career, Barry has held senior positions with The Bell System, Xerox, US News and World Report. As a consultant, his clients include The Bureau of National Affairs, The Congressional Research Service, McGraw Hill, Boeing, Rockwell, IBM and US Defense agencies. He is a frequent contributor to publications on information management topics. He can be reached at

Editor's Note:

The term "markup" has several different meanings. In traditional project management it means the amount added to the cost to determine the asking price, that is to say, the profit margin. In editorial work, e.g. document updating, it refers to the traditional proofreader's marks added to the document calling for corrections. In web design, it means the coding added to plain text that enables a web browser to determine what you will see and how you will see it on your screen. The author uses the term "markup" in this last sense. Given the influence of information and communication to the success of any project, web-based communication is becoming of increasing importance and needs to be understood.

In separate correspondence, the author observes:

"[My paper] is based on our experience over the previous couple of decades and was written to illuminate the rush to use XML as a markup protocol for all types of information needs. I am convinced that XML can indeed be used across a wide spectrum of information types and requirements, but I am equally convinced that its current growth is taking its cues from the much more controlled world of the database. This RDBMS world achieved its remarkable coherence partly by ignoring types of information with which it could not easily deal, i.e. everything that didn't fit well into tables and rows. In today's world, although XML has opened the floodgates, demanding that every type of information be included in the content life cycle, markup design thinking often operates as if it were still in the comfortable world of the database."

"I also believe, from experience, that project managers are often confronted with the challenges of figuring out how and how much sophisticated content protocol is needed for success in their effort. The standards world would have them believe that unless they adopt every jot and tittle of the latest markup and communications protocol, they will be Neanderthal. Of course, that is not true. Indeed, adopting the latest whiz bang standard may open the PM to getting a horse that is going nowhere."

As visitors to this web site know, we believe in simplicity. The medium is not the message it is the message itself that counts, especially when it comes to managing a project!


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