Puzzlin' Evidence #4

April 27, 1998

Puzzlin' Evidence #4

by Xavier McLipps

In this space we're in the lighthearted-entertainment end of XML; we hope you'll be impressed as we attempt to make conference and standards politics entertaining; a gossip guy's gotta do what a gossip guy's gotta do.

I should a note here that my email, which was somewhat completely broken for a while, is all in order; and has already been the source of some first-rate scuttlebutt.


Standards (yawn) Organizations

You may not know this (there's no reason you should) but there is no small number of organizations out there that claim to author standards. Grandparent of all is of course the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in Geneva, which is just now considering the introduction of electric typewriters. Then there's ITU (famous for making phones work), IEC (can't find anybody who knows anything IEC is famous for), ANSI (famous for ASCII), NCITS formerly ANSI X3 (now has part of SGML), ECMA (famous for ECMAScript), and the IEEE (famous for Ethernet).

XML's own beloved W3C is definitely the new kid on the block, and XML the nouveau riche among standards. There are FOXes who think that it might be good insurance (with friends like XML has, who needs enemies?) to get XML blessed by one of these standards deities.

This love does not go unrequited; we hear that a few of these organizations would just love to enfold XML in their embrace. We hear the following Relevant Rumors:

  • Microsoft won't work with ECMA, because they didn't like how the JavaScript standardization went.
  • The members of the XML WG don't seem very eager to give the ISO SGML committee a role in codifying XML.
  • Microsoft is engaging in a springtime romance with IEC, which might be interested in becoming a standards heavy via XML.
  • ECMA will bless anything as a standard, providing it isn't actually a weapon of mass destruction.

Xavier has never met any of the people involved, so this distinctly rumor-ware; but the fact that people believe these things is instructive.

Conference (yawn) Names

For many years, the SGML world's center of gravity has taken place in late fall somewhere in the Eastern U.S., at the annual "SGML" conferences: SGML '90, SGML '91. Last year, SGML '97 because SGML/XML '97, fondly known as "the slash conference". This year, a little bird tells us, it is going to be known simply as "XML '98". Nothing like jumping on a popular bandwagon; but we wonder about all the people who invested their professional lives in SGML, left behind for the XML trophy wife.

XML-Data Again

Do we ever get mail about this. Seems that not a few folks out there are disgruntled at XML-Data's being presented as a done deal, and some of them react in Xavier's direction. The following list of "Best Lies About XML-Data" came in the mail:

  • "The W3C WG for XML-Data is..." (doesn't matter what comes next, there's no such animal).
  • "The DOM WG is doing the parser requirements for XML-Data."
  • "Microsoft is just one of the authors."
  • "We really want this to go through the standards process."

Incoming PR

It is distinctly puzzlin' evidence that I now receive, on a regular basis, excited press releases about new products and suchlike; that's right, emailed to I can only conclude that they are saying: "do your worst, Xavier. Slag us off as long as you spell our name right." OK then; how about that Excitable Inso ICE Announcement. Inso has, as you can read on our front page, leapt into the ICE breach with an announcement of the first conformant product. Which is remarkably clever, considering that it is impossible to find out a single thing about what actually is in ICE; the gossip is that they have a requirements document and that's about it. Points to Inso for chutzpah...

More incoming PR; in this case, I will, out of kindness, suppress the identity of the source... rather, I'll just quote a few lines (exactly):

&Name-Deleted; ... has start to think about XML many months ago. This thought tell us to develop 3 XML software....
NOTE : All of these functionnalities are not implemented in the beta 1 release. This list describe what the software can be for the version 1.00 release. Some of these functionnalities will perharps disappear for the final release....
Friend application capabilities

(we particularly like that "Friend application" capability)


In a couple of previous issues, we dropped hints about personnel shifts in Michigan and San Jose

We hear from an authoritative source that Mike McEvoy, formerly VP of Engineering at ArborText, will be heading the "Enterprise Solutions" division at Adobe, which has both the Frame and Acrobat products. Interesting... not to say maddening for some folks; we also hear that the transfer is tied up by ArborText legal action, seems they think that their ex-VP Engineering might know one or two proprietary facts about their strategies and product plans.

Last time, we snickered at the prominent Microsoft positioning in the SGML/XML Europe conference in Paris in May

Late-breaking rumor has it that Netscape, having maintained a complete blackout about all things XML for the past year or so, suddenly had a change of heart and will now get some speaking space in Paris. Give the credit to McLipps, we say.