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   SGML/XML 98 Paris, another take

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  • From: "Simon North" <north@Synopsys.COM>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Tue, 26 May 1998 09:29:47 +0001

Umm, was I at the same conference as Betty and Peter? Here's my take 
on a couple of the items.

Microsoft: what I saw was an animated presentation of XML being used 
a *wrapper* to carry the inter-Office package 'meta' data. The actual 
data was unchanged, but when importing a chart plot into the Excel 
spreadsheet, the data describing its size and other properties was in 
XML. This is rather different to saving the whole thing in XML ... 
however, on the other hand it opens up extremely interesting 
possibilities for third-party add-on producers who could use the XML 
data as part of a rudimentary API.

Netscape: [I am a Netscape 'fan'], I thought the presentation was a 
little sad. Yes, we saw a version of 5 in action, incorporating a 
browsable view of the local filesystem in a vertical left frame and 
some neat tricks with bookmarks using RDF. However, much of the 
presentation was a pep talk about Netscape's new open code policy - 
with all sorts of name drops in the direction of Linux. Maybe I'm too 
cynical, but the whole thing came across as more of a plea for help 
than a ground-breaking demo. Oh, how the mighty are fallen.

There was an interesting, but very subdued needle session between 
various other presenters and Microsoft, it didn't quite go as far as 
outright Microsoft-bashing, but it did come close. Microsoft is 
holding to a three-tier approach, using XML as middleware and HTML as 
the presentation format. Several people warned against the 'dangers' 
of considering XML as just middleware.

Namespaces: no-one is happy about namespaces. Maybe I should leave it 
to Jon himself to speak his piece, but in the panel session on the 
current status of the standards (SGML + XML) he said that XML was 
almost stopped in its tracks by the W3C because other working groups 
claimed that the XML group was not giving them what they needed. 
Namespaces was more or less forced on them (he didn't actually say 
the words 'ad hoc solution' but that was the flavour) and there are 
a lot of problems with it.  

As soon as I get the time, I too will write up a full report.

Simon North
Simon North        north@synopsys.com       sintac@xs4all.nl
PGP Fingerprint 97FA 6A6C 1136 A66A 431D  8454 9C16 F677 A4C8 9CE2
"Presenting XML", "HTML4 Unleashed, Professional Reference Edition", 
"Dynamic Web Publishing Unleashed"

So much stupidity ... so few comets ...

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