December 12, 2003
@ 12:19 PM

Today is the last day of the XML 2003 conference. So far it's been a pleasant experience.


Attendance at the conference was much lower than last year. Considering that last year Microsoft announced Office 2003 at the conference while this year there was no such major event, this is no surprise. I suspect another reason is that XML is no longer new and is now so low down in the stack that a conference dedicated to just XML is no longer that interesting. Of course, this is only my second conference so this level of attendance may be typical from previous years and I may have just witnessed an abnormality last year.

Like last year, the conference seemed targetted mostly at the ex-SGML crowd (or document-centric XML users) although this time there wasn't the significant focus on Semantic Web technologies such as topic maps that I saw last year. I did learn a new buzzword around Semantic Web technologies, Semantic Integration and found out that there are companies selling products that claim to do what until this point I'd assumed was mostly theoretical. I tried to ask one such vendor how they deal with some of the issues with non-trivial transformation such as the pubDate vs. dc:date example from a previous post but he glossed over details but implied that besides using ontologies to map between vocabularies they allowed people to inject code where it was needed. This seems to confirm my suspicions that in the real world you end up either using XSLT or reinventing XSLT to perform transformations between XML vocabularies. 

From looking at the conference schedule, it is interesting to note that some XML technologies got a lot less coverage in the conference  relative to how much discussion they cause in the news or blogosphere. For example, I didn't see any sessions on RSS although there is one by Sam Ruby on Atom scheduled for later this morning. Also there didn't seem to be much about XML Web Service technologies being produced by the major vendors such as IBM, BEA or Microsoft. I can't tell if this is because there was no interest in submitting such sessions or whether the folks who picked the sessions didn't find these technologies interesting. Based on the fact that a number of the folks who had "Reviewer" on their conference badge were from the old school SGML crowd I suspect the latter. There definitely seemed to be disconnect between the technologies covered during the conference and how XML is used in the real world in a number of cases.


I've gotten to chat with a number of people I've exchanged mail with but never met including Tim Bray, Jon Udell, Sean McGrath, Norm Walsh and Betty Harvey. I also got to talk to a couple of folks I met last year like Rick Jellife, Sam Ruby, Simon St. Laurent, Mike Champion  and James Clark. Most of the hanging out occurred at the soiree at Tim and Lauren's. As Tim mentions in his blog post there were a couple of "Wow, you're Dare?" or 'Wow, you're Sean Mcgrath?" through out the evening. The coolest part of that evening was that I got to meet Eve Maler who I was all star struck about meeting since I'd been seeing her name crop up as being one of the Über-XML geeks at Sun Microsystems since I was a programming welp back in college and I'm there gushing "Wow, you're Eve Maler" and she was like "Oh you're Dare? I read your articles, they're pretty good". Sweet. Since Eve worked at Sun I intended to give her some light-hearted flack over a presentation entitled UBL and Object-Oriented XML: Making Type-Aware Systems Work which was spreading the notion that the relying on the "object oriented" features of W3C XML Schema was a good idea then it turned out that she agreed with me. Methinks another W3C XML Schema article on could be spawned from this. Hmmmm.