Extremely Good!

Volume 6, Issue 68; 07 Aug 2003

Extreme Markup Languages never fails to delight. A hundred people you definitely want to hang out with for a week, if ever you get the chance.

The main difference between living people and fictitious characters is that the writer takes great pains to give the characters coherence and inner unity, whereas living people may go to extremes of incoherence because their physical existence holds them together.

Hugo Von Hofmannsthal

Extreme Markup Languages never fails to delight. It's unquestionably one of my favorite conferences, one that I'd hate to miss.

There are a lot of metrics by which one might measure a conference. Among the most important, I think, is who else attends. By that measure, Extreme must be almost unbeatable. If you told me that the hundred or so folks at Extreme this year were going to another conference, I'd make room for it in my schedule. These are bright folks, interested in hard problems. And three or four dozen of them are willing to get up on the podium and talk about their stuff. How cool is that?

It doesn't hurt, of course, that I'm interested in a lot of the same problems. (I'd go listen to most of them regardless of what they were talking about though. I'm sure I'd learn a lot.)

Another metric is how many interesting talks there are. This is probably strongly correlated with the first metric, but it's not quite the same thing. I've been to conferences with four tracks and few interesting talks. Not often, I'm happy to say, but it has happened. Not so at Extreme. As usual, I went to every session I could and I still missed a bunch of interesting presentations. More so than usual this year, because personal scheduling conflicts prevented me from attending the whole conference. I missed entire days!

I missed Tommie's talk: It's the markup, stupid! (Right on, Tommie!), several interesting sounding topic map and semantic web papers, Jeni's paper on typing transformations, Simon's polemic, Ari's latest work on streaming transformations, Michael's discussion of logic grammars and schema languages that sounds very intruiging indeed, and Ken's insightful approach to “literate XSLT”, quite different in spirit from my own work in that area. (Thanks for the demo, Ken!)

And that was just on the first day! (Read the papers. I know I will.)

Lest it seem that I missed every talk, Thomas Passin gave a very interesting presentation on the use of topic maps, Dimitre Novatchev demonstrated just how much functional programming you could really do with XSLT by exploiting namespaces in a gloriously clever way, several talks discussed generalizing XPath for directed graphs (which I freely admit would be a much better solution than the one I presented in RDF Twig ), also several interesting talks about validation algorithms, Fabio Vitali described an extension of DTD syntax to add namespaces and datatypes, and Sam Wilmot encouraged us to demand co-routines.

And that doesn't even include the last day! It's no wonder Extreme gives me an intellectual inferiority complex.

What a conference!


I, too, was moved by the experience of participating in this conference, the ninth since the series began in 1994. Extreme has a feeling of professionalism and shared values that is unusual and inspiring. The presenters, the leadership of Tommie Usdin, the co-chairs, the reviewers, and the other participants all make vital and compelling annual contributions to an experience that leaves me feeling more centered, more connected, and better informed. It refreshes me in many ways, and it delivers this refreshment every year, quite reliably.

And Montreal in August is just great, too!

Thanks, Norm, for passing the word.

—Posted by Steven Newcomb on 14 Aug 2003 @ 06:28 UTC #

While I have attended several of the larger XML conferences, this was my first Extreme. It is, indeed, an appropriate moniker, because the content is full of unique approaches to difficult problems in the XML space. I had heard that Extreme was very RDF-centric, and was delighted to find that the topics were much more varied. My favorite presentations were on Literate XSLT and the various sessions on topic maps. The daily polemics also demonstrated that we have a sense of humor in this community! Keep up the great work! I hope to be in Montreal again...

—Posted by Scott Hudson on 14 Aug 2003 @ 09:58 UTC #