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Mark Embling

XML CVs - Why So Hard?

Recently I've been researching various XML-based standards and formats for storing a CV. It seems that various different people and organisations have taken a bash at solving the problem, but there is no clear winner or format of choice. It seems to me there is a lot of confusion and quite a few half-baked solutions aimed at the problem - it is clearly something people other than myself have looked at, but that's about all I can say.

What's the Problem?

I have decided to rebuild this site in Rails to replace the current PHP-based site. I'm doing this for several reasons - to better learn the Ruby language, learn the Rails framework, and just because I can. As part of this, I am looking at all parts of the site and considering how I could do it better.

Currently my CV page is pulled from a custom XML dialect I came up as part of an assignment at uni. However, this was designed around my own Microsoft Word based CV at the time with little or no thought as to future changes which may be required or what other people would need for their own CVs. This makes it a fairly useless format other than for my own small purpose.

It seemed to me that the best course of action would be to identify a preferred XML format for CVs (and résumés) – because let's face it, such a thing must exist, right? Er... no.

The Options

I came across several different options for creating an XML-based CV:

  • XML Résumé Library - This looked promising but it looks like that the project was abandoned at some point around 2004 or so. Seems a shame because it appeared to be gaining traction.
  • HR-XML - Again, this looked promising. Various resources I found on the net had used HR-XML 2.5 for their résumés. Now that the 3.0 version of their standard is released however, they have decided to drop support for the résumé part of the spec and rather focus on other more business-centric areas of HR. Version 2.5 is still supported they say, but why create a new solution for an old standard?
  • cv-xml - This project looks like it started out with the same goals I have in mind, but died quickly...
  • xmlcv - ...as did this, which seems to have died before anything even came of it.

Its quite possible there are more out there, but if I didn't find it, chances are its so little-known that it doesn't matter – after all, will anyone else find it? What does surprise me is that there is nothing which really solves this problem - the most promising (in my opinion), XML résumé library, appeared to never catch on. Are there just too few people who want, need or care about a solution such as this?

So What Now?

All of these abandoned projects and lack of consensus has kind of put me off the original idea. I still think its a good thing and if it ever happens, I'll be happy to jump on board. But for now, I think I'm going to take my ideas (and implementations of them) in a slightly different direction.

I'm sure I will follow this up in due course with whatever I come up with.