[sword-devel] HELP! Need your feedback on XML Markup Language

Alan Jackson sword-devel@crosswire.org
Thu, 30 Aug 2001 17:52:27 -0500

I haven't been following his too closely, so forgive me if this has already
been posted, but it looks terribly relevant...

August 29, 2001


'Free trade zone' for electronic Bible texts takes major step forward

by Jan Nunley

     (ENS) Commercial and non-profit groups, spearheaded by the 
American Bible Society (ABS) and the Society of Biblical Literature
 (SBL), have agreed to develop a markup of the Bible and related 
texts, based in the XML document format language, to be called the 
Open Scriptural Information Standard (OSIS). The effort has been 
dubbed a "free trade zone" for the Bible by John Walter, group 
director of strategic development for ABSinteractive, the technology 
arm of ABS. The initiative was announced at the Bible Technologies 
Conference, held earlier this year in Chantilly, Virginia, which 
brought together a global mix of Bible publishers, scholars, 
software manufacturers and technical experts. 

     Steven DeRose, chief scientist at the Brown University 
Scholarly Technology Group, was one of the keynote presenters at 
the conference, where he was appointed chair of the newly formed 
Bible Technology Group. "This joint effort of many commercial and 
non-profit groups, spearheaded by ABS and SBL, will be a great boon 
to all those interested in studying, distributing, or otherwise 
working with the Bible and related texts," said DeRose, a veteran 
of standards efforts, including XML, X Base, XPath, XPointer, Xlink, 
Open eBook, TEI, EAD and others. "I have been especially impressed 
by the goodwill, focus on results, and intellectual quality of the 
Bible Technologies Conference participants."

     When completed, OSIS will free texts from "proprietary" formats 
that make it difficult for publishers to reuse their own materials 
and for users to exchange or reuse their own work. The interim 
organization of working groups will investigate the various aspects 
of creating a "portable text" which will enable all persons to read, 
without hindrance, an open source portable text. Participants envision 
a greater electronic sharing of the Bible itself, which will aid 
scholars, publishers and missions organizations in their work. 

     Kent Richards, executive director of SBL, notes that the situation 
now is "mass chaos" because everyone uses an individual computer 
language rather than using OSIS. This is especially confusing to 
"mass users who are unsophisticated," Richards says. 

     A half-dozen working groups were formed at the conference to 
address the variety of topics raised by the establishment of a 
common text format, in essence creating roadmaps for standards 
development. The guiding principle for the groups is increasing 
communication between scholars, religious communities and laypersons 
interested in biblical and related texts. 

     The Bible Technology Group will have a two-day meeting to discuss 
OSIS just prior to the American Academy of Religion/Society of 
Biblical Literature (AAR/SBL) annual meeting in Denver, November 15-16, 
2001. Registration for the OSIS meeting will open at the 
www.bibletechnologies.org website on September 14, 2001. Registration 
for AAR/SBL covers the OSIS meeting.

| Alan K. Jackson            | To see a World in a Grain of Sand      |
| alan@ajackson.org          | And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,         |
| www.ajackson.org           | Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand |
| Houston, Texas             | And Eternity in an hour. - Blake       |