Puzzlin' Evidence #1

March 27, 1998

Puzzlin' Evidence

by Xavier McLipps

XML: it's hot, it's sexy, and it's not dead yet. The motley crew of saints, geeks, power-mongers, and greed-heads in the Internet biz are flying off in the most remarkable directions under XML's impulse. This makes for darn good entertainment value, and who knows, maybe even a little business intelligence. I, Xavier, will be your mole, lurking in the electronic (and even physical) corners, trying to winkle a few laughs out of the turmoil. Drop me a juicy tid-bit by mail; I provide valuable prizes (really!) and guard anonymity (well, until Ken Starr gets involved). -X.McL.

Inso &heart; Synex

Tongues are wagging over Inso's having snapped up Synex. Inso, under the monicker EBT, used to pretty well own the electronic-text-display biz until Mosaic came along. Inso used to pretty well own the spelling-checker biz until MS bought out the contract; they sank some of the money into EBT.

Inso has the "Dyna" family of products, generally regarded is pretty good; their pricing model, on the other hand, has been unfavorably compared to Attila the Hun's foreign-relations policy.

Synex is 3 guys in Stockholm who are some-time students, but have a pretty cool SGML display engine that appears in SoftQuad's Panorama and in fact every other SGML display product in the world that isn't sold by Inso.

Inso insiders are doing a pretty decent imitation of being puzzled; only the most cynical would suggest that Inso is trying to lock up the market by grabbing the core technology out from under the competition...


We hear whispers that Adobe, under its "Frame" hat, wants into XML big-time, and is out there snagging senior people from leading mouldy-old-SGML oops dynamic-young-XML companies, and have attack-trained headhunters ringin' them bells on the world's MOS-oops-DYX desktops.

CNgroup What?

On the subject of hiring, turn an eye to the South Valley, where, within spitting distance of PARC, mouldy-old-SGML oops dynamic-young-XML exec Bob Glushko is importing a wave of MOS-oops-DYX hacks to The Company Soon To Be Formerly Known As CNGroup.

I hear they have not only got some reasonably plausible XML+ecommerce stories to tell, but much more difficult, have actually locked down a mellifluous and unused 3-letter Internet domain name!

X-Actly Who?

So there's a Major New Industry Consortium called X-Act, that's XML Active Content, boys 'n' girls, we hear it's going to usher in a new age and energize the Web. On the other hand, it could just be a DataChannel marketing ploy... opinions are divided.

Rolling On The Floor Laughing

Which MS marketing droid was heard to emit this gem to a crowd of 300+ at a recent conference? "HTML tags don't have any semantics; the advantage of XML is that XML tags have semantics".

Which NS marketing droid was heard to tell a C|Net reporter, when being asked about XML, "Don't say 'XML', say 'RDF'."?