Dreaming of Paris

June 2, 1998

Xavier McLipps

Puzzlin' Evidence #6

by Xavier McLipps

So, this is the Column After the Paris Conference. Wish I'd been there. Fortunately, lots of you were, and sent in the goodies.

Oh, and a couple of you asked; my column title is stolen from a song-title, said song authored by the ever-euphonious David Byrne and his Talking Heads. -X.McL.


Ah, Paris in May, its romance only slightly diminished by the hundreds of spouses and family members of Mouldy Old SGML oops Dynamic Young XML hacks doing le tourisme. And they say we don't have lives in this profession; well, "they" obviously don't compare the head-counts on morning and afternoon sessions. But, some business was done, according to my mailbox. On to it.

Hospitality Sweets

er, Suites. Xavier's moles were there. Highlights from the mole-o-grams:


"They are planning to repackage A/E into XMetaL Pro (I suppose the 'Lite' version will be a read-only editor). The partners meeting was at 07h30 in the morning, started at 8h15 in practice since (a) some of the attendees didn't really like the early scheduling, and more importantly (b) SQ people had been partying (for what?) 'till 5h30 the night before."


"They will be packaging their stuff together into an 'end to end solution' box, which means putting all installation disks in one box and increasing the overall licensing fees."
Xavier says: The rumor that South Asia's financial collapse was brought on by Inso licensing fees is probably false.


"A great success, even if they were next to ArborText, INSO and Chrystal. Looks like the Swedish guys can party, hack and publicize their stuff all during the same week."

Resistance is Futile?

What is the application-to-be-named-later under development around the Sound that is causing such petulant footstamping over the pace of XML-Data-cum-XML-Schemas development? Yet again we heard a Highly Placed Personage from Microsoft allude to a development effort that would be Seriously Hampered if the effort formerly known as XML-Data is not rammed through the W3C by late summer. Actually, the words used were, "It better be ready..." What will happen if it is not? Heads will roll? Code will unravel? Bugs will storm the Bastille?

While not wishing a slipped schedule on any friend of a friend of McLipps, and while every night we pray that all standards efforts, everywhere, will be completed on time, under budget, and at the convenience of every software developer, large and small, we also hope just a little that what was glommed under the title of XML-Data gets delayed just a weenie bit longer than the foot-stomping giant can afford. Not that we wish any software developer or standards effort ill, ever, but we are dying to see what will happen when XML-Schemas fails to march fast enough for the Powers That Would Be Absolute.

Fall Conference?

In a previous Puzzlin' Evidence, I reported the controversy going on over the name of the fall conference, for time immemorial known as "SGML &This-Year;". Last year, it became "SGML/XML '97", affectionately known as "the slash conference." This year, the sponsoring organization, the GCA, decided to abandon SGML and call it XML '98. The people who've been organizing the conference for years stomped their pretty little feet and headed for the exits. No problem; GCA found some new chair-people and soldiered on to a background chorus of grumbles. We hear the conference name changed 6 times in 4 days during the Paris bun-fight; at the closing plenary, it was announced that the conference would be called "XML: something or other", and a logo was bandied about in which the letters "SGML" figured prominently in the background.

We were also informed that there would be an ancillary "academic" conference, which would focus on "Hytime, DSSSL, and other SGML-related issues". Rumor has it that participants in this conference will be required to ring bells and chant "Unclean, Unclean".

Micro Scar?

It seems like we can look forward to an eruption of XML startups in the Ottawa area, mostly populated by exitees from well-known Mouldy Old SGML oops Dynamic Young XML company Microstar. Most recently departed was David Megginson, who has a formidable rep out there for having ramrodded the creation of the SAX interface.

Lord knows that in those long Ottawa winters, there's little to do other than write software.

Rolling on the Floor Laughing

We hate to pick on Microsoft (really, shooting at big targets is boring), but they have been outstandingly entertaining in recent days. Said one High Commissar: "It is elitist not to like HTML as a presentation language."

In another context, Steve Sklepowich, likely to go down in history as the world's first full-time XML marketing professional, was interviewed on the subject of VML, the recent vector-graphics-in-XML proposal, submitted by everybody in the world who didn't co-submit Adobe's PGML vector-graphics-in-XML proposal. He said "VML complements the Precision Graphics Markup Language (PGML) proposal recently submitted to the W3C by Adobe and other companies." We suspect, much as the Viet Cong used to "complement" the U.S. Marines.