Leigh Dodds

Leigh Dodds is an application developer and designer specialising in Java, XML, and database design. He develops XML based electronic document delivery systems for ingenta, and is based in Bath, UK.

Leigh is an xmlhack contributing editor and maintains Eclectic, a weblog for the XML-DEV mailing list.

Articles by this author

An Introduction to FOAF

Friend-of-a-friend, FOAF, is an RDF vocabulary for machine-readable homepages. It enables the expression of decentralized social networks akin to the centralized ones seen in Friendster and Orkut. Leigh Dodds provides an introduction to FOAF and its use.

DSDL Examined

In Leigh Dodds' last XML-Deviant column, he examines the ISO's DSDL project and the XML development community's reaction to it.

The IETF, Best Practices and XML Schemas

In this week's XML-Deviant column, Leigh Dodds reports on the IETF's efforts to define best practices for the use of XML, which has fanned the flames of debate about schema languages.

XML Europe 2002 Coverage

Leigh Dodds is in Barcelona this week, busy munching tapas and attending XML Europe 2002. This week's column features up-to-the-minute conference coverage.

REST Roundup

This week's XML-Deviant surveys the multifaceted debates about the REST web application architecture.

When to Use Get?

The XML-Deviant examines the recent debate surrounding the TAG's draft statement on the proper use of GET.

XML Namespaces 1.1

This week's Deviant examines the Namespaces 1.1 Working Draft, as well as its goals and likely impact on XML processors and development practices.

W3C XML Schema Needs You

In this week's Deviant column the issue of interoperability and specification conformance of XML Schema processors is discussed.

Message Patterns and Interoperability

The XML-Deviant reports on the recent discussions about kinds of messaging patterns, as well as industry efforts to certify web services interoperability.

Document Associations

The Deviant column examines the relation of namespaces and document types, as well as multi-typed documents, in the context of XML processing models.

Fat Protocols

Leigh Dodds looks at recent discussions about the efficiency of XML-based distributed application frameworks.

XQuery Questioned

The XML-Deviant asks whether the XQuery specification should be refactored, and whether it should be released without specifying significant parts of the expected feature set?

Versioning Problems

The publication of the first draft of XML 1.1 is the cause of much dissent in the XML community.

Far from Patchy Progress

Leigh Dodds reviews the recent history of the Apache XML project, its the latest SOAP developments, and concludes that Apache XML has matured considerably.

Wrap Your App

Leigh Dodds reports on recent community conversations about solving the XML application packaging problem.

Identity Crisis

Leigh Dodds describes the recent XML developer community's debate about the best way to fix XML's ID attribute problem.

Being Too Generous

Leigh Dodds reports on the community's so far successful efforts to convince Microsoft to fix XML conformance bugs in IE6.

Dividing Factors

Leigh Dodds searches the fault lines of the XML development community and finds that a desire for technological diversity is the new epicenter.

A Path to Enlightenment

Leigh Dodds takes us for stroll down the path of XML complexity, seeking the enlightenment of simplicity.

Architectural Style

Leigh Dodds reviews a debate about the usefulness of XSLT, concluding that if used as intended, XSLT is one of the successful XML technologies.

Opening Old Wounds

Leigh Dodds discusses the interpretation of namespaces and XML Schema and, in the process, highlights an important flaw in the W3C's specification process.

Doing it Simpler

Dodds recaps the history of SML-DEV's efforts to simplify XML, including Common XML, MinML, and YAML. He then examines where SML-DEV may be going next.

The RDF Calendar Task Force

Dodds describes the goals and methodology of the RDF Calendar Task Force, a practical Semantic Web development effort.

The Collected Works of SAX

Dodds reports on XML-DEV's latest efforts to enhance the SAX API and to build a standard library of SAX tools.

Sunshine and Blueberries

Leigh Dodds explores the issues behind the W3C's newly-forming Technical Architecture Group, as well as giving an update on XML Blueberry.

Against the Grain

XML developers are talking about a perennial question: how can XML and database technologies be integrated appropriately?

Blueberry Jam

A proposed revision of XML to accommodate new Unicode characters is becoming a sticky point of debate in the XML developer world.

Rapid Resolution

A recent debate about supporting OASIS catalogs in XML shows that strong differences of opinion still exist on interpretation of the XML 1.0 specification itself.

Time for Consolidation

Is XML changing the way applications are being designed? If so, what tools should you use to model these applications?

Parsing the Atom

Not every piece of data the XML programmer has to deal with comes neatly packaged in angle brackets. XML developers have been examining how W3C XML Schema could help out.

Intuition and Binary XML

Binary encodings for XML is a well-worn topicon XML-DEV, yet last week's revisiting of the debate introduced some interesting new evidence.

XP Meets XML

The XML-Deviant has been watching advocates of the latest trend in software development, Extreme Programming, get to grips with XML. At least they have acronyms in common.

Schemas by Example

There has been a lot of activity in the area of XML schema languages recently: with several key W3C publications and another community proposed schema language.

Extensions to XSLT

Members of the XSL mailing list have started a commnunity-based project to standardize extensions for XSLT.

Toward an XPath API

Since XSLT and XPointer rely on XPath, developers are asking whether an XPath API should be created.

Answering the Namespace Riddle

Dodds introduces RDDL, the Resource Directory Description Language, the result of a recent project conducted by the XML developer community to make XML namespaces easier to use.

Time to Refactor XML?

The growing interdependency between XML specifications is causing concern among XML developers -- is this just a case of sensible reuse, or are we creating a dangerously tangled web of standards?

XSLT Extensions Revisited

The first Working Draft of XSLT 1.1, though attempting to address the portability of stylesheets that use extension functions, has failed to please everyone in the XSLT developer community.


For the past two weeks XML-DEV has seen fascinating exchanges between three inventors of alternative XML schema proposals.

Dictionaries and Datagrams

XML developers have been reexamining the textual encoding of XML, addressing concerns of verbosity and multilingual elements.

XPointer and the Patent

Does a Sun patent threaten the future of hypertext on the web, or are XML developers getting unnecessarily alarmed by the licensing terms on the XPointer spec? The XML-Deviant reports.

Old Ghosts: XML Namespaces

The XML Namespaces ghost returned to haunt the XML community this Christmas. However, developers on XML-DEV fought back with a new proposal to bring predictability to the use of URIs as namespace identifiers.

Converging Protocols

Jon Bosak's comments at XML 2000 about the respective roles of ebXML and SOAP have sparked discussion on convergence between ebXML's transport, routing and packaging layer and the W3C's XML Protocol Activity.

What's in a Name?

The XML-Deviant looks at best practices for identifying XML resources; then wonders why more developers aren't taking advantage of entity management systems.

Profiling and Parsers

Can XML be meaningfully split up to facilitate partial implementation of the specification? XML developers debate the issues.

Primed for the Semantic Web

Last week's article on the Semantic Web has sparked discussion among the RDF developer community, who are considering the nature of the Semantic Web and how it might be implemented.

XML Reduced

Is the incessant multiplication of XML standards leading to confusion, and what is the real minimum a developer needs to know about XML in order to do useful work?

Schemas in the Wild

As adoption of W3C XML Schema technology increases, the need for documenting best practices is becoming more important, not least where namespaces are concerned. The XML-Deviant investigates.

Schema Round-up

An introduction to tools for writing and documenting schemas, and a look at a new alternative to XML Schemas called RELAX.

Of Standards and Standard Makers

The debate over who makes XML standards and how they are made rumbles on. This week the XML-Deviant examines the W3C and asks whether its Semantic Web initiative informs or hinders comprehension of their mission.

The Rush to Standardize

Keeping track of the number of consortia in the XML space is rapidly requiring the effort needed to track the burgeoning number of specifications. Is all this "standardization" too premature? XML-Deviant covers the recent debate.

The Benevolent Dictator of SAX

As David Megginson gets ready to hand over the reins of SAX, the community-developed Simple API for XML, a successor must be found.

Super Model

Growing interest in RDF is seeing renewed work to increase understanding of the specification, including a move to separate RDF's simple data model from its oft-maligned syntax.

Gentrifying the Web

XHTML promises to civilize the unruly mass of HTML on the Web. But is anybody listening? Leigh Dodds examines whether web developers know or care about XHTML.

Instant RDF?

RDF has some devoted followers, but is yet to hit the XML mainstream. Many believe this is because of its complicated syntax. XML-Deviant investigates the quest for "instant RDF".

Last Call Problems

This week the XML Deviant dips into the SVG developer lists to find developers frustrated with the specification, which is still at Last Call status.

Schemas Revisited

The XML-DEV mailing list has seen a renewed vigor in discussion recently, with the spotlight being turned on the troubled issue of XML Schemas.

The Future of XT

James Clark, whose software has significantly influenced the popularity of both XML and XSLT, has said he sees no future for his own XSLT processor, XT. XML-Deviant looks at the community's reaction, and their determination to carry on with XT.

Namespace Trouble

This week XML Deviant reports on a Namespace-related debate holding up XML work at the W3C, and the final release of SAX2/Java.

Speaking Your Language

This week's column addresses the issue of internationalization in XML DTDs and schemas, as well as reporting on the latest initiative of the SML-DEV group to produce a simplified XML.

Being Resourceful

Forget about making XML simpler, what about RDF? While some may love this specification, many others find it impenetrable. XML-Deviant probes the grumblings of XML-DEV about this controversial technology.

OASIS and the Future of SAX

Last week on the XML-DEV list, Jon Bosak suggested that the OASIS consortium should take on further development of the SAX API. Also, don't miss "Groves explained in 50 Words."

Investigating the Infoset

XML's syntax was invented before its data model, but the XML Infoset specification is seeking to plug the gap and formalize the data model. The XML-Deviant examines what the Infoset is, and what people think of it so far.

Codename Spinnaker

Despite starting off life in a rather turbulent fashion, the "Xerces Refactoring Intiative" promises to improve both the software and the internal structure of the Apache XML Project.

RSS Modularization

The popularity of RSS, the lightweight XML headline syndication format, is provoking moves to extend and advance its feature set. XML-Deviant reports on proposals and their connection with RDF and Namespaces.

New XSLT Technologies Debut

As XSLT adoption grows, developers from Sun and Oracle have been pushing the boundaries of the technology with "translets" and an XSLT virtual machine.

XSL and CSS: One Year Later

Are the W3C's XSL formatting objects up to the job, and what is that job anyway? XML-Deviant tracks the resurgent discussion about XSL.

Standards and the Vendor

This week, XML-Deviant comes from the XML Europe vendor panel discussion. Representatives from IBM, Sun and Microsoft fielded questions on their support for XML standards.

Designing Schemas for Business to Business E-Commerce

In a fast-paced session at XML Europe, Arofan Gregory, Lead Scientist and Manager of the XML Common Business Library, provided an overview of the role of XML Schemas in e-commerce and gave some guidelines for good design.

Reconstructing DTD Best Practice

In a presentation at XML Europe 2000, Henry Thompson examined current "best practice" in DTD design and provided a reinterpretation using XML Schemas.

Second Coming

This week XML-Deviant reports on the progress with XML Schemas, and an upcoming consolidation of the XML 1.0 errata into a second edition of the specification.

News from the Trenches

Over four hundred mail messages in one week makes relative URI references in XML Namespaces a hot topic. The discussions remain, however, fearsomely impenetrable. XML-Deviant ventures into the battlezone to summarize the debate.


Two innovative technologies have recently been announced to the XML developer community: JDOM, a Java-specific DOM; and TRaX, an API for XML transformations.

Problems and Prospects

The last few weeks have been troublesome ones for the XML-DEV mailing list's new hosts, OASIS. On the plus side, the resultant introspection has raised new ideas regarding the future of the XML-DEV community.

Filling in the Gaps

The XML-DEV mailing list has long been a place for thorough examination of the XML specification, and suggestions for areas where new activity is required. Recent discussion has centered around the problems of describing parser capabilities and external resources required by a document.

Storing and Querying

Real-world use of XML is leading to repeated requests for a consistent way to store and query XML documents. While a query language from the W3C seems a long way off, DOM level 3 may be able to help.

Unifying XSLT Extensions

XSLT processors each have a different way of implementing extension functions. Developers in the XML community have stumbled upon this problem, and want to do something about it. Leigh Dodds analyzes the arguments and suggests a way forward.

Good Things Come In Small Packages

One of XML's strengths is its human-readability. But the consequent verbosity is also one of its weaknesses, according to a growing number of XML developers.

Painting by Numbers with SVG

Following the generally warm welcome received by SVG of late, the denizens of the XML-DEV list have taken their microscope to the specification, resulting in some enlightening dialogue.

Spotlight on Schemas

As the W3C XML Schema work nears the "Candidate Recommendation" phase, criticism from XML developers abounds. Leigh Dodds summarizes the recent debates.

Birth of a Community

As the XML-DEV mailing list transfers to OASIS, XML-Deviant talks to Peter Murray-Rust, the founder of the list.

An XML Apprenticeship

This week, XML-Deviant gets deeper into groves, takes another look at the controversy over W3C processes, and finds real progress with SAX2.