When Markup Languages Attack


You of course know HTML, you may know some XML and SGML, and you figure there are probably a handful others out there that a few people use.  If by “handful” you mean a few hundred, then yes, you are right.  All of them serve real technical needs and a great many of them enjoy widespread support.

Some of the ideas behind some of these markup languages are, shall we say, a bit more interesting.  As a break from some of our more serious articles, we figured you’d appreciate a trip down 21st century web trivia.  Let’s see if you can guess what each of the acronyms below stands for before reading each section:


You’ll have a hard time with this one.  Even though it was created in 1995, you still may have never before heard of Office Furniture Modeling Language.  Its purpose is as it sounds.  It was meant to be a language that accomplished a lot of the same type of modeling techniques used by CAD but which took into account specific needs of the office furniture industry.  While it is still around today we were only able to find any significant use of it in Germany.

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This one you might guess from the name.  Yes, AIML does indeed stand for “Artificial Intelligence Markup Language.”  Don’t worry, though, this language won’t bring about the end of the world just yet, though it may wind up in you getting fooled now and then: AIML exists primarily to aid in the development of natural language use by machines, and has shown some success with it.


You probably won’t find anything with as specific a use as AGML.  You could also try all day and probably not guess what it stands for.  Annotated Gel Markup Language exists solely to markup data obtained by a very specific chemical process called “two-dimensional gel electrophoresis.”  To be fair we’re kind of cheating here: there’s not a lot of evidence yet that this markup language is being used by much of anyone.  Then again, how much “everyone” for this is there?

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In terms of obscure uses WDTF might be a close second.  This is another one you won’t guess if you’re not an Australian meteorologist.  WDTF stands for Water Data Transfer Format, and was developed to transmit water data between private and public entities in Australia.  As oddly specific as it sounds, it’s actually already in use in some areas.


Yes, all of you budding chefs have guessed right.  You now have your own markup language.  While so far it hasn’t caught on much, you have to admit that it’s original name used one of the coolest acronyms ever: Document Encoding and Structuring Specification for Electronic Recipe Transfer … DESSERT.

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We’ll end with one that somehow sounds a bit creepier than AIML.  EML is designed to make more  efficient the communication that goes on between user and machine.  That may not seem so bad at first until its revealed to you exactly what this stands for: Emotion Markup Language.

We’d like to finish this by saying that now we’ve seen everything.  However, knowing man’s desire for technological innovation whether or not it’s actually a good idea, we’ll leave the door open on this one.  It’s not like we have much choice.

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