JG: I assume that the burning issue was keeping it simple.
TB: And we missed. XML is a lot more complex than it really needs to be. It’s just unkludgy enough to make it over the goal line. The burning issues? People were already starting to talk about using the Web for various kinds of machine-to-machine transactions and for doing a lot of automated processing of the things that were going through the pipes.
HTML obviously is the most successful data format in the history of the universe for delivering information. It was never designed to be processable, to the extent that it was designed at all. Ted Nelson [Internet pioneer known for coining the term hypertext] famously once said that trying to bring order into HTML would be like trying to graft arms and legs onto hamburger. He had a point. And SGML sort of had what HTML needed—a deterministic grammar and extensibility and a few other things.