No Machine Could Translate These New XML Entities

April 22, 1999

Xavier McLipps

No Machine Could Translate These New XML Entities

by Xavier McLipps

Been a while... XML is morphing from a field-of-dreams (well, hey, build it and they did come) to business-as-usual. Fortunately, this still leaves a bit of space for silly, slimy, and sinister behavior. -X.McL.

Torvalds Does XML!

We're not surprised to see that Transmeta, the shadowy startup famous for employing the Linus Torvalds of Linux and for never having either shipped a product or said a word about what they're doing, is taking a leadership position in the XML space. Evidence? Their homepage, which is simultaneously HTML and pristine well-formed XML (you may need to do a "view source" to get the full impact).

XML is for Spam!

We observe, in an April 13 press release from RightDoc, that their new product "creates multi-faceted Enterprise or Web-based business document solutions" and that "adding business intelligence to documents is a snap". What does this actually mean?

"For instance, it's easy to conditionally insert one-to-one marketing and sales messages into documents contingent upon data such as inventory levels and consumer purchases..."

If that isn't a killer app, I don't know what is.

Fight the Power with XML!

We got mail from a couple of people who were somewhat nonplused by XML paterfamilias Jon Bosak's closing comments at XTech'99 - he asked for a straw poll on whether the crowd wanted the conference to focus on technology or on "corporate agendas". The crowd went for technology, overwhelmingly. Look for Ralph Nader as a keynoter before too long.

Microsoft Reads!

Recently, published our first piece in XML, covering Microsoft IE5, the first browser that really tries do XML. The article uncovered a few problems when you're trying to use XML with CSS; for example, you can't use the standard "<" trick. The author got an article from the BillPlex relating the error of his ways, which he forwarded; here's the best bit:

You should escape "<" using "&amp;&lt;" because you are using a CSS style sheet which causes all tags to be hidden.

Uh, could we have that again, a little slower this time?

So Does Internet World!

Another favorable reaction to the same article comes from Internet World (the trade rag, not the conference). In both their online and print versions, Gus Venditto paid us the sincerest compliment, stealing a couple of quotations word-for-word, without asking first, or crediting You shouldn't have. We really mean that.

Eat Me (Please)

XML these days seems all M & A, and that doesn't stand for Markup and Attributes. Each merger or acquisition comes with a thick gooey layer of marketing euphemisms. As a service to the community, we're going to provide some simultaneous translation.

Inso Buys AIS

"The acquisition of AIS Software will further enhance Inso's position as the leader in information delivery applications for the Web and will also significantly extend Inso's data transformation and data rescue offerings. "


AIS has always been able to build SGML-based solutions, and has always wanted to do products instead. Unfortunately, their product (Balise) is in the scripting and glue-ware domain; they weren't afraid of going up against good commercial rivals such as Omnimark and Frontier, but of late they found themselves in the ring against freeware such as Perl, Python, and TCL. The solution (leaping into the arms of Inso) seemed sound. Shortly thereafter, of course, Inso had a little "accounting irregularities" episode which led to their CEO falling on his sword and the stock-price tanking. Of course, the AIS transaction would have been for cash, not shares. Right?

Interleaf Buys Texcel:

"By acquiring the Information Manager product and technology, and Texcel employees, Interleaf is accelerating its aggressive technology vision to revolutionize the authoring, management and publishing of e-content for Web-enabled applications. Information Manager brings an advanced Web-centric desktop environment to BladeRunner."


Texcel was generally thought to be microseconds from bankruptcy; Interleaf is thrashing around trying to find a real product in the BladeRunner marketing underbrush. The database angle is interesting: BladeRunner was at one time romancing Poet, a charming little OODB (object-oriented database) from Germany. Later, they switched their affections to ObjectStore, and now have bought Texcel, which ran on UniSQL, another OOAR (object-oriented also-ran).

DataChannel and Isogen Merge

"The merger allows DataChannel to extend the DataChannel XMLFramework™ by providing additional professional services while delivering the benefits of formal standards to a larger market. The combined company further unleashes the power of Enterprise Information Portals (EIPs)."


Ain't a merger, DataChannel's in charge. Aside from that, this one has everyone at baffled. DataChannel (we-are-not-a-push-company) is a product-oriented marketing machine, Isogen is a proudly product-independent solution builder. Let's see, if you combine Architectural Forms with Java-based channel management, you get... well, we'll find out.

Accelerated Evolution, FedGov Style

Correspondent "Joule" writes us:

The US Government Printing Office seems to be skipping a few levels of evolution.

I just received an RFP from GPO. They want an analysis and recommendations on a business process to convert a large WordPerfect document to SGML. The bid must be submitted on the 3-part carbon form they provided. Yes, three printed copies of a form, bound with real carbon paper after the first and second copies! Is an SGML consultant who doesn't own a typewriter disqualified from bidding? Are there any SGML consultants who HAVE typewriters in their offices?