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Keynote Debate: Microsoft & Sun: What is the Right XML Strategy for Information Interchange?

I am liveblogging the Keynote Debate between Microsoft and Sun on what is the right strategy for information interchange. The panelists are Tim Bray, Director, Web Technologies, Sun Microsystems, and Jean Paoli, Senior Director, XML Architecture, Microsoft. Jon Udell is moderating.

  • Actually Frank Gilbane is moderating, and not Jon, so we will hear some of Jon’s thoughts as well
  • Frank: the session is really about strategies for sharing, preserving, and integrating document content, especially document content with XML.
  • Frank gave some background about the European Union attempts to standardize on Microsoft Office or OpenOffice
  • Tim elucidated some requirements of your data format. (1) Technically unencumbered and legally unencumbered (2) High quality (and a notable aspect of quality is allowing a low barrier to entry). Tim: “As Larry Wall (the inventer of Perl) noted, easy things should be easy, and hard things should be possible).”
  • Jean predicted that by 2010, 75% of new documents will be XML.
  • Tim agreed with Jean that 75% of new documents will be XML by 2010, but asked how many of them will be XHTML (as opposed toa more specialized schema, I assume).
  • Some agreement by all that electronic forms are an important aspect of XML authoring, but Tim thinks the area is “a mess.” I’m paraphrasing, but Tim commented on the official XForms release, “Well, it’s official.”
  • Jean commented that XML-based electronic forms are made more difficult because forms themselves require consideration of graphical user interface, interactivity, and even personalization to a degree. This suggests forms are more complex than documents. (And this reminds me of a comment Mark Birbeck made about there being a fine line between an electronic form and an application.)
  • Good question from the audience. So much time has elapsed since SGML got started, and we are still only have XSL-FO (which this person was not happy with). What does this suggest about how long it will take to get better, high-quality typographically sophisticated output?
  • Tim would suggest we are seeing some improvement, beginning with better resolution on the screen.
  • Another commenter weighed in, suggesting that format is important and format does convey meaning. Would like to hear that the tools are going to get better.
  • Frank: when do you need a customized schema?
  • Jean: best way to safeguard your data and systems is to have an XML strategy. You can gain efficiencies you never had before. Also suggested that the Microsoft schemas will not somehow trap your content into Microsoft’s intellectual property.
  • Jon’s takeaways: (1) software as service (2) XML-aware repositories and (3) pervasive intermediation (the content flows in such a way that you can intermediate it)

1 Comment

  1. Gilbane Report Blog

    OpenDocument an OASIS standard, but …

    It is excellent news that OASIS has approved OpenDocument as a standard. Hopefully it will also become an ISO standard….

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