July 8, 1998
Summer months, slow times. But in XMLsville, the buzz, while it may run a little quieter, never stops. Oh yes, effusive thanks for the kind words on the Paris coverage, and a tip o' the hat to Xavier's moles, UGR and </S>. -X.McL.
Do you think that an XML editor is the path to fame 'n' fortune? A lot of people do; the stack of press releases hyping the latest 'n' greatest editors makes my desktop sag (OK, it's cheap & flimsy; XML.com does not fund "executive" furniture). And the names these people pick!
Of course, the idea of editing text with pointy brackets in it is not exactly new, and since it would be in poor taste to purvey gossip only of a startup kind, we'll have a few words to say about some ol' editing favorites. Off to the races!
For example, what have we here?
These cute little guys 'n' gals are vervet monkeys, the inspiration (we expect) for Vervet Logic's "XML Pro" editor. Vervet is distinguished, along with their cute name, by the marketing over-enthusiasm we've come to expect from our little XML startup buddies: their big June press release included the email addresses of the product's beta testers. Ouch! The same press release included this sparkling sample of marketeer-ate-the-Wheaties but skipped-the-coffee prose: "XML Pro is the first visual XML editor to released to the Internet community."
For those of you who are tired of toking up and have pretty well blown your nasal septum, you can now tie up and send that XML straight to the source; this would be the premise of Intravenous Communications' "Xpose" editor. Seems like any little shop with some spare time can tinker for a couple of weeks and describe the results as: "a Java-based, feature-rich XML editor just released by Intravenous ... as interesting to XML novices as it is to experts." Except of course that all the links from the Xpose page (to download, or to the "products" page) are broken. Ah well, a visit to the Intravenous home page reveals that they've been mainlining Canadian Federal government money; which is a jones as bad as anything you can score in the waterfront district.
Clip the Box; or was that Box the Clip?
No, we are not kidding. Open the XML Box and you find Clip, the new XML editor from the Techno 2000 Project, Inc., who claim to be the center of everything XML in Korea. (South Korea, that is; in North Korea, "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il has imposed a compulsory set of 11 tags for use in all situations by everyone; extensibility is not on the menu. In fact, nothing is on the menu, we hear). We're glad to see that the entrepreneurial spirit (combine a few thousand lines of Java code with a few hundred pages of marketese) is alive and well both sides of the Pacific. In the case of Techno 2000, their specialties include XML, digital libraries, and on-line games. Makes perfect sense to us.
Olde Editors, Take 1
In the world of things that end with "ML", SoftQuad has been around as long as anyone; originally a boutique typesetting software house, they jumped aboard the big, fast-moving profitable SGML juggernaut with their Author/Editor package. But then SGML turned out to be small, slow-moving and unprofitable. This led them on a long, strange, trip through the financial doldrums, which included a stay on the infamous Vancouver Stock Exchange, and under the influence of the still-famous HoTMetaL, an Internet semi-IPO leading to a real live Nasdaq listing. Which they are now in danger of losing; that nasty competition from FrontPage, and what is politely termed "questionable decisions by management" - one of which was buying tiny New England Alpha Software, famous for ... what was it again? ... oh yes, redistributing the "Tickle Me Elmo" game for the Sony Playstation. Now there's synergy with structured editing for ya. In the next instalment, the SQ management walked the plank and now the Alpha gamesters are running the whole show. [Wait a second; doesn't Techno 2000 do games too? -Ed.]
To make a long, dreary story short, the any-old-markup-language end of SoftQuad is on the chopping (oops auction) block [NewKidCo?? -Ed.] Since heaps of people think the Vervet mascots shown above would be an improvement on recent generations of SQ management, this can only be good news.
Olde Editors, Take 2
Corel's troubles are well-known; what is not well-known is that their moldy old WordPerfect package has long had a well-concealed SGML editor which is said to be not too bad at all.
Thus the recent shutdown of Corel's Utah establishment has to be of interest. The press release said that the shutdown would be compensated for by ramp-ups at the Dublin, Ireland and Ottawa, Canada locations. Word on the street is that the really lucky folk get to go to Dublin, the lucky ones lose their jobs, and the unlucky go to Ottawa.
Rolling On The Floor Laughing
"XML is the SQL of the World Wide Web"
- Dave Pool (of DataChannel; a FOX to the max, who deserves a lot of credit for filling up this column on slow days)
"The problem in the XML world is there aren't a lot of technologists. They're all scientists ... technologists are concerned with shipping actual products and not just creating a perfect, scientific world without addressing market realities."
- Dave Winer (of scripting.com, the towering market presence of which makes it clear that Dave's a technologist, unlike the scientists at Microsoft and HP and Netscape and Sun who built XML; this is a pleasant change from the usual accusation that XML is a marketing conspiracy)
"And the XML working group in the W3C has -- because the Navigator source code is available -- decided Navigator should be the delivery vehicle for the reference implementation of XML. So they're putting the reference implementation of XML out of the working group into the Navigator source code themselves."
- Marc Andreessen (of some other planet, it seems)