XML 2004

Volume 7, Issue 201; 19 Nov 2004; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Four days, four nights, and more than 120 sessions of all singing, all dancing XML in Washington, D.C.

There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don't know.

Ambrose Bierce

The annual XML conference is exhausting. The days start early, they go late, and the opportunities for learning new things, meeting interesting people, and hearing about how XML is really used, are almost endless. I wouldn't miss it.

My own winding path through a day and a half of tutorials and three days of conference papers stacked six tracks wide included a half-day tutorial about topic maps from Pam Gennusa (standing in admirably for Steve Pepper) and most of the second half of Michael Sperberg-McQueen’s XML Schema tutorial. I threatened to heckle, but I didn't. My own tutorial on DocBook wasn't until Friday morning, but this year I scored a “gold pass” that let me lurk in the back of other tutorials for free.

On Tuesday, Edd Dumbill talked about DOAP, Bob DuCharme explored the persistent tension between doc-heads and data-heads, France Baril talked about DITA, which I still don't think I've really gotten my head around yet, and Paul Prescod showed off Critique, BlastRadius's very impressive collaborative reviewing tool. I'd buy it today, if only it ran on a platform I wanted to use. Speaking of products, JustSystem used the conference as a backdrop for announcing their new compound-document editing environment, XFY, that also looks very interesting. (Full disclosure: I spent some time talking to the folks from JustSystem before the conference started.)

Next up, on Wednesday, Michael Champion presented a complete and thoughtful summary of the strengths and weaknesses of XML's verbose pointy-bracket notation followed by Michael Leventhal's report on the progress of “binary XML” at the W3C. Tony Graham talked about reliability, engaging some of his audience in a literal “egg and spoon” race. Dare Obasanjo and David Orchard closed out Wednesday with back-to-back explorations of extensibility and versioning in XML vocabularies.

On Wednesday evening, eight of us got together for dinner. DocBook and Lebanese food, yum. Thanks everyone!

“Pipeline Thursday” began with Nigel Whitaker' overview of pipeline construction in JAXP followed by Biswadeep Nag's look at hardware accelerated pipelining in an XML parser. In the afternoon, Peter Rodgers described how 1060Research is building robust, heterogeneous asynchronous XML pipelines with NetKernel, the coolest sounding pipeline toolkit I've heard of in a while. I'll definitely be checking it out. Also on Thursday, Jon Bosak described UBL: ready for prime time, this year and Mehmet Dalkilic discussed “semantic thumbnails” for documents. Neat stuff. My Thursday concluded with Wendell Piez's spectacularly beautiful and elegant presentation “Way Beyond Powerpoint: XML-driven SVG for Presentations” (it was award winning, literally) and Rodger Sperberg and Rajeev Voleti's presentation of a couple of industrial-strength applications built on top of an RDF store.

Over those three days, I missed Michael Kay's talk about using XSLT 2.0 for “up-conversion”, a discussion of back-of-the-book indexes by the DocBook XSL Stylesheet project's own Jirka Kosek, a couple of XSL FO talks that sounded interesting, a MathML presentation I would have liked to have seen, Joe Gregorio's description of the Atom API, and “Accommodating XML 1.1 in XML Schema 1.0” by Henry Thompson. And those are just the talks I know I missed. It's no wonder I'm exhausted.

Tim Bray capped the conference with a first rate closing keynote, “What Brings Us Together”.

There's no question, Lauren Wood runs a top notch conference. It'll be in Atlanta next year and I plan to be there.

On the lighter side

It was Tony Coates who brought his electric Ukelele. And for extra double bonus points, I got to hear both Tony and Len Bullard play it. It was a treat to meet Len and I hope he can be persuaded to attend more often.

Tony Plays
Tony Plays
Len Plays
Len Plays

After hours, I got a chance to hang out in Tim and Lauren's suite. We talked and laughed and argued and even sang. I think Len, just off-camera to the left, was singing Tom Lehrer for us when I snapped this.

Everyone Laughs
Everyone Laughs

From left to right, that's Tim Bray, Michael Sperberg-McQueen, John Cowan, Tommie Usdin, Debbie Lapeyre, Tony Coates, Lauren Wood, and Eve Maler. I gladly traded a little blurriness to avoid breaking the mood. Maybe it's even better this way. Thanks, everyone!

Oh, and Paul, here's the URI you requested for that, uhm, resource you got in the ballroom. I have no representations for it though, so you're going to have to explain it to Cathy all by yourself.


But who does the leg in the foreground belong to? (I know I was there, but I didn't have your particular perspective.)

—Posted by John Cowan on 22 Nov 2004 @ 02:07 UTC #

Close inspection of the uncropped image reveals that the errant knee is mine. The foot beyond is Paul Cotton's, I believe. It might possibly be Eduardo Gutentag's but I think it's Paul's.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 22 Nov 2004 @ 06:12 UTC #

Your knee? Wow, and my wife won't let me forget it when my thumb is in the picture. A whole knee? That just takes it to a whole new level. Cheers, Tony.

—Posted by Anthony B. Coates on 25 Nov 2004 @ 09:09 UTC #