Following is the full text of the speech delivered by the Director of Information Technology Services, Mr Lau Kam-hung, at a seminar on eXtensible Markup Language today (October 25):
Mr Yung, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have great pleasure in welcoming you to this seminar which focuses on a very important standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium and its strategic applications. The eXtensible Markup Language, or XML in short, has been considered as an ideal tool for developing e-commerce applications, by providing a common language for defining different types of structured data to be exchanged over the Internet and processed by other user-defined languages. Gartner Group estimates that XML technology will be used by 75 per cent of e-business systems by 2002.
XML is a key enabling technology that will enhance the way businesses are conducted over the Internet. It is also a good example of how an open industry standard could accelerate the take up rate of technologies. If we look back at the history of computing, we will notice that there has been a continuous evolution of technologies, and by that I include protocols and standards, during the past 30 years. We will also notice that every now and then a technology breakthrough could bring out very substantial changes in the way technologies are used. When the APRAnet, which was the precursor to the Internet, was first implemented in 1969, it only consisted of 4 nodes and used a proprietary communications protocol. Subsequently, TCP/IP was developed as a common communication protocol allowing different computers to communicate over open networks. The term "Internet" was first introduced in 1974 in a research paper describing how TCP/IP would work. More recently, technologies such as the Hypertext Markup Language and the browsers have popularised the Internet on a global scale. According to industry estimates, there are now over 300 million Internet users, 6.4 million servers and 4.5 million web sites world-wide. The Internet has become part of our everyday lives. It has revolutionised itself into a global information super-highway allowing us to send and receive electronic mails, browse information and purchase goods and services online from sources all over the world. The exponential growth of the use of the Internet has been brought about by a number of technology breakthroughs which led to mass adoption. XML could well prove to be one of these. I am sure this seminar will provide you with a lot of insight in considering its applications.
The Government encourages our information technology (IT) community to embrace new technologies, especially those that can be deployed over open and common platforms. Under our "Digital 21" IT Strategy, the Government aims at enhancing and promoting Hong Kong's information infrastructure and services so as to make Hong Kong a leading digital city in the globally connected world of the 21st century. To achieve that aim, an important element is for our IT practitioners to adopt the latest and advanced IT tools and techniques and to apply them in the development of value adding business applications. Therefore, it is very encouraging and timely that the Hong Kong Productivity Council has organised this XML seminar today to arouse interest and to facilitate exchange of ideas on the creative use of the technology.
As you may be aware, the Government will launch the first phase of the Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) scheme before the end of this year. Under this scheme, selected services from government departments and public agencies will be available for use by members of the public over the Internet and at public information kiosks. XML is an important component which has been used to develop the information systems that make up the ESD scheme.
The versatility of the XML standard has also enabled us to put in place an initiative of converting commonly used Government forms into electronic forms for a variety of processing applications. More importantly, forms that are so developed will facilitate the wider use of our public key infrastructure by enabling digital signatures and electronic submission.
As Hong Kong strives to be a leading digital city in the new economy, we need to foster a culture in the community that welcomes the exploitation of new technologies. I would like to wish the seminar every success and I'm sure participants will find this seminar an informative and rewarding experience.
End/Wednesday, October 25, 2000