Plaudits and Pundits

December 5, 2001

Edd Dumbill

Linux Gets SVG Browser Plug-in

It came as a very pleasant surprise last week to hear that Adobe has released a version of its SVG browser plug-in for Linux and Solaris. Being an habitual Linux user, I had resigned myself to not being able to see SVG on the Web until the Mozilla project had progressed further with its implementation of the W3C's vector graphics standard, so news of the plug-in was welcome indeed.

Downloading and installing the plug-in proved simple, and I was happy to see that the installer detected that I was using Mozilla, without any extra manipulation required. The first time the plug-in is run, you are required to agree via a dialog to Adobe's licensing conditions. The start-up time for the plug-in is, unfortunately, disconcertingly long: one hopes that speed improvements will follow with later releases.

SVG viewer running in the Galeon browser

Speed issues aside, I had no problem viewing SVG content with the plugin. The screenshot shows a view of one of Tobias Reif's fractal SVG images, generated using XSLT. One of the nice features of the plugin is the "view source" option -- precisely what, to my mind, makes SVG a better long-term bet for web graphics than proprietary technologies such as Macromedia Flash: the ability for anyone to adapt and transform SVG graphics using others' documents to learn.

Adobe, so recently the target of much popular ire, should be praised for spending the resources on a Linux version of its software and, unusually for a commercial vendor, producing a piece of software that installs in a way sympathetic to Linux, rather than fighting against it.

Now that viewing SVG is really a cross-platform reality, I hope that open source developers -- who have contributed much to the XML software world -- will be encouraged to create more SVG software and help SVG to the ubiquity achieved by other XML technologies. If the recent mushrooming of traffic on SVG mailing lists is anything to go by, SVG's future looks bright.

XML Europe in Barcelona

Those of us now enveloped by the cold and gloom of winter can cheer ourselves with the prospect of a trip to Spain next May. I have the pleasure of chairing the XML Europe 2002 conference, which will be held in Barcelona from 19th-24th May next year, and I hope that as many readers and contributors as possible will be able to join me there.

I'd especially like to highlight the current call for participation. The closing date for most submissions is 14th December, so if you're planning to contribute to the conference, now is the time to submit your proposal. Proposals can be conveniently submitted via an online form.

The XML Europe conference traditionally takes a broad look at the industry, catering to all tastes: from the technical to the business-oriented and strategic. Suggested topics for talks include case studies, content management, core XML technologies, databases, electronic business, government and legal, graphic and multimedia, knowledge technologies, publishing, and web services. Some topics that I'd welcome talks on in particular include modeling techniques for XML vocabularies, the legal aspects of using XML, and patterns for XML-oriented software development. However, feel free not to let these suggestions limit you in your subject matter.

For more information, see Anti-Awards

Every industry, once grown sufficiently insular, has an awards ceremony, and the XML world is proving no exception. The XML 2001 conference, taking place next week in Orlando, will be awarding an "XML Cup" for outstanding individual contribution to the XML industry, which will no doubt be given to a very worthy recipient. Everyone knows, however, that underneath the genial back-slapping that goes with awards lies a considerable amount of backbiting.

Never one to dissemble, it seems time for the XML industry to embrace the backbiting, and provide a balance to the laudable aims of the XML Cup. Hence, I'm pleased to introduce the <taglines/> Anti-Awards 2001. The gongs themselves will be awarded as part of's holiday festivities in late December, and nominations are open until then. The vote will be decided by a panel of biased and bitter judges, but be approximately based on readers' nominations.

Here, then, are the categories:

  • Most Egregiously Oversubscribed Industry Bandwagon

  • Best Use of Acronyms in XML Initiative

  • Most Spectacular Incidence of Committee/Project In-fighting

  • Lazarus Award for Seemingly Doomed Yet Surprisingly Persistent Initiative

  • Most Technically Deficient Initiative Kept Alive by Marketing Dollars

  • Most Liberal Interpretation of Specifications in an Implementation

  • HyTime Award for Specifications with Secret Hidden Powers

  • Bluestone Award for Aggressive Press Releasing

  • XML Conference Give-Away Most Unrelated to Product

  • Best Practical Use of the Semantic Web

  • Most Inappropriate Use of XML

Some further notes: mail nominations, with justifications where possible, for each or any of the categories to All nominations will be kept confidential. Bribes should be no less than $10.


Also in <taglines/>

XML 2004: After Declaring Victory, What's Next?

An Old New Thing

Moving On, But Not So Far

XML at Five

Whither Web Services?

  • XML-DEV, the busy and often garrulous forum for XML developers, turned up its toes this week. No traffic has been sent or received on the mailing list since last Friday, when some unscrupulous hackers wiped the membership database. OASIS, which hosts the mailing list, is working to restore it in a more secure environment. Of course, OASIS will also be familiar to many as heavily involved in developing future XML-based electronic business specifications. One certainly hopes that the future of electronic business is more secure in their hands than mailing lists. To lose a mailing list once might be considered unfortunate...

  • Speaking of blunders by industry consortia, one would dearly like to know in exactly which way the W3C's mission to "lead the web to its full potential" is fulfilled by removing the search facility from its site. Finding information on open standards and work inside the W3C is now significantly more difficult as a result. Happily, as often seems to be the case these days, Google is substituting in making the Web more useful. Now, tell me about this Semantic Web thing one more time...

  • As mentioned above, next week brings IDEAlliance's XML 2001 conference, at which the great and the good of the XML world will be assembled. Headlining the keynotes will be James Clark, noted international XML man-of-mystery. will of course be there to report in full on Clark's speech, in which he will examine "what really works" in XML. Perhaps Clark won't make repeat his rather direct condemnation of W3C's XML Schema work from earlier this year, but he's bound to offer a refreshingly different viewpoint from the usual run-of-the-mill conference keynotes.