Quotes about XML in 2006

Sunday, December 31, 2006

SOAP enthusiasts are aghast at the claim that WSDL is unnecessary, but it’s true. They claim that the server isn’t returning HTML for humans to read and interpret, it’s returning XML for machine to machine processing, and how can this work if the client machine doesn’t know what the server is sending. But I claim the client doesn’t “know” anything. It doesn’t know that the message is an invoice, only people know what an invoice is. It doesn’t know that the FirstName element isn’t likely to have the value “Tea Kettle” (barring very strange parents). All we can say it “knows” is the structure of the document and what datatypes the elements and attributes can hold.

But, WSDL proponents go on to say, what about code generation and data serialization? A crutch, I say, and not a very beneficial one. I’ve never cared for wizard driven development and code generators. They tend to demo well, but ultimately don’t produce maintainable code. Furthermore, this style of SOAP development reinforces the SOAP as RPC/distributed-component/serialized-object perspective and relegates XML to just another serialization framework. The generated code tends to be especially brittle, and breaks when the message returned changes in any way.

--Pete Lacey
Read the rest in InfoQ: Interview: Pete Lacey Criticizes Web Services

Saturday, December 30, 2006
you might need to escape > because the character sequence ]]> is not allowed in XML. You might need to escape ' and " because they could appear in an attribute value with the same delimiter.

--Tim Bray on the atom-protocol mailing list, Wednesday, 26 Jul 2006 16:37:24

Thursday, December 28, 2006
SOAP was known to be a bad idea in 1999 and, in spite of our comments to that effect, the industry still insisted on proving that for themselves.

--Roy T. Fielding on the rest-discuss, mailing list, Sunday, 12 Nov 2006 14:16:36

Thursday, December 21, 2006
I've also found that many employers have stopped listing XML in their advertisements, not because they don't need that skill, but because they assume that working with XML is something that you should just know if you work with most computer languages.

--Kurt Cagle on the xml-dev mailing list, Thu, 27 Jan 2005 22:56:18 -0800

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I’ve just started going through the papers from XML 2006. I wish more people were putting their papers or slides up, so many are missing. Now that we have this new thing called the WWW, the readership for a paper is much more than just the conference participants; people like me on the other side of the world who weren’t there would love to read many papers.

--Rick Jelliffe
Read the rest in Fake real-time blog from XML 2006: day one

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Second Life has made it acceptable to root for the DRM provider, because of their enlightened user agreements concerning ownership. This obscures the fact that an enlightened attempt to make digital objects behave like real world objects suffers from exactly the same problems as an unenlightened attempt, a la the RIAA and MPAA. All the good intentions in the world won't confer atomicity on binary data. Second Life is pushing against the ability to create zero-cost perfect copies, whereas Copybot relied on that most salient of digital capabilities, which is how Copybot was able to cause so much agida with so little effort -- it was working with the actual, as opposed to metaphorical, substrate of Second Life.

--Clay Shirky
Read the rest in SECOND LIFE: A story too good to check

Monday, December 18, 2006
millions still use Netscape 4. Thus, many site owners feel compelled to support Netscape 4—and mistake “support for Netscape 4,” which is a good thing, with “pixel-perfect sameness and identical behavior in Netscape 4,” which is a bad thing because it ties developers’ hands and forces them to write bad code and dumb markup.

--Jeffrey Zeldman
Read the rest in Jeffrey Zeldman On Why To Incorporate Web Standards > Bad Browsers Lead to Bad Practices

Friday, December 15, 2006
spend time formatting your XML so it looks visually appealing. Ant works with ugly or pretty XML, but ugly XML is hard to read. Provided you leave a blank line between targets, indent consistently, and avoid exceeding 90 or so columns of text, XML is surprisingly readable. Throw in a good editor or IDE that syntax highlights the XML, and you should not have any trouble getting by.

--Eric M. Burke
Read the rest in ONJava.com -

Thursday, December 14, 2006
screw CSS. I don't mean the CSS spec, not the relatively elegant constraint system they have in place; I just mean the CSS syntax, since it's one more language piled onto the heap. The whole selector minilanguage is nifty, but does it really need to be different from XPath? I mean, aren't they both doing path expressions to select things in the DOM? Jeez!

--Steve Yegge
Read the rest in Stevey's Blog Rants: Blogger's Block #3: Dreaming in Browser Swamp

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Latin-1 is legacy crud, UTF-8 is the present and the future.

--Andrei Zmievski on the PHP internals mailing list, Tuesday, 12 Dec 2006 09:43:20

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Microsoft has nothing to gain by making life better for small programmers. They have millions of lines of code written to the old, crappy Windows APIs, and they make all their money selling Windows and Office. If they actually enabled small programmers to do cool things, they'd be creating the very furry mammals which would be their eventual downfall.

Look, I don't think everyone at Microsoft is cackling in their offices, planning their next evil move. I'm 100% certain there are good-hearted people there, really trying to empower the users. But the problem is the company is fighting itself.

When 90% of your revenue comes from upgrading Windows and Office, you've got to ask, about everything they do, "Does this help Windows and Office?" And if the answer is no, you've got to assume that you can't really rely on that thing. Because it's going against the company's core values.

--Wil Shipley
Read the rest in On Being and Deliciousness, with Wil Shipley

Sunday, December 10, 2006
only W3C employees, Members (capital M sic), and invited experts get to vote. “Other stakeholders” can be and safely are ignored. Even invited experts can be and safely are ignored.

--Joe Clark
Read the rest in How not to fix HTML – Le «blog personnel» de Joe Clark

Friday, December 8, 2006
The term "web service" means anything the speaker wants it to mean. Like "service oriented architecture" or "native XML database" or "electronic business" it's a fuzzy term that different people will define in different ways, depending on what they are trying to sell you.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 30 May 2005 10:29:40

Thursday, December 7, 2006
Microsoft has developed its own proprietary XML-based formats, first the XML format for Office 2003, and a later significantly modified version that is to be used by Office 12 when it is released next year. No one other than Microsoft has had any reasonable way to “agree” on Microsoft’s specification. In particular, competing suppliers could not review Microsoft’s format in some neutral forum where they could identify problems, work together to fix them, and agree without pressure on a final result. Users do not really count here; most users have no idea what is in their format and cannot rationally agree to anything. So, there’s never been an opportunity for agreement on Microsoft’s format. In contrast, Massachusetts’ choice, OpenDocument, has been agreed upon between many office suite suppliers and large-scale users, and vetted (agreed upon) by an independent standards body (OASIS).

--David A. Wheeler
Read the rest in GROKLAW

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Don't worry about WS-Dominance. It will never arrive. But beware of WS-Stupidity.

Having some large software vendor or partner inject SOAP into your data center is no reason to allow it to infect all of *your* work. Push WS-Complexity out to just those edges whose outside forces require it. Stop the enemy at the gates. Make the rest as simple as possible. Always assert your control over your own architecture or you will be a loser.

--Patrick Logan
Read the rest in Making it stick.: Nothing Is All Or Nothing

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

No matter how much simpler things could be if we chucked the whole WS-* stack, in the corporate world nobody is listening. All they hear is what the big vendors say, and all they talk about is SOAP and WS-* and W3C XML schema and a bunch of other really complex crap that just makes people’s jobs harder.

I think it’s naive to believe that this isn’t intentional, the complexity is there because it requires tools to make it usable and it just so happens that all those vendors that corporate developers are so fond of, sell tools. It’s good for their business to make technology as complex as possible.

--Kimbro Staken
Read the rest in Inspirational Technology » Blog Archive » WS-* vs. REST, XML Schema vs. Relax NG

Monday, December 4, 2006
Amongst professionals who deal with commercial publication of science, technical and medical material, the growth of MathML has been steady and marked. Based on Design Science sales records, MathML usage in large-scale publishing workflows has been increasing at around 100% a year for the last 3 or 4 years.

--Robert Miner on the www-math mailing list, Friday, 14 Jul 2006 09:24:28

Sunday, December 3, 2006
XML 1.1 is part of the problem. It creates incompatibility in corner cases without compelling benefits. The real XML that is known to work with any "XML tool chain" is XML 1.0.

--Henri Sivonen on the WHAT WG mailing list, Sunday, 3 Dec 2006 11:40:45

Friday, December 1, 2006
DTDs are what cause us the most day to day pain. Namespaces are probably second.

--Michael Champion on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 28 Nov 2006 09:44:18

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The principal problem with Flash is that it is inappropriate for many content and commerce sites. Yet developers use it in these inappropriate situations because Flash facilitates snazzy presentations that make clients feel they’re getting bang for their buck—and because, successful or not, Flash sites look good in the company’s portfolio.

News sites, portals, shopping sites, institutional sites, community sites, magazines, directories, and others that emphasize text or involve practical interactivity are still best served with XHTML, CSS, and other standards. Yet many developers sell Flash instead, not because it serves the project’s goals, but because they get off on it, and because the resulting work attracts new clients. It’s like ad agencies pushing work that will not sell a product but will win them awards. Not that ad agencies ever do that.

--Jeffrey Zeldman
Read the rest in Jeffrey Zeldman On Why To Incorporate Web Standards > The F Word

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
W3C XML Schema is an abomination that has done more harm to XML based systems than anything else. Every time I’ve seen a team try to make use of W3C XML Schemas, it results in nothing but headaches. I just look on with frustration over my knowledge that it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s really quite sad to see how bad the W3C screwed up with that technology and how widely it penetrated other specifications without much thought being given to it’s real quality.

--Kimbro Staken
Read the rest in Inspirational Technology » Blog Archive » Choose relax for XML schemas

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
When it's ugly, it's ugly. Compared to XSD, even DTD looked good. When XML-DEVers first got a whiff of XSD, the prevailing opinion was negative. Some, like James Clark, disliked XSD enough to suggest an alternative: RELAX-NG. Like I wrote before, one of the problems with W3C is that it doesn't have a reverse gear. Instead of scrapping XSD and adopting RELAX-NG, it put all of its weight behind XSD, smearing the filth across the board. In retrospect, I wish I screamed louder but I doubt that would have made any difference.

--Don Park
Read the rest in Don Park's Daily Habit - Too Early for RELAX

Monday, November 27, 2006

Besides being readable, a web page's URL should mean something to the website viewer. Having "/honda/" in a URL helps the website user understand the site; having "/tabid23/" in a URL does not.

Of course who violates this rule the worst? Content management systems. And it seems the most more expensive the CMS, the worse it violates this rule (can you say "Vignette?")

--Mike Schinkel
Read the rest in Mike Schinkel's Miscellaneous Ramblings

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Users are highly goal-driven on the Web. They visit sites because there's something they want to accomplish -- maybe even buy your product. The ultimate failure of a website is to fail to provide the information users are looking for.

Sometimes the answer is simply not there and you lose the sale because users have to assume that your product or service doesn't meet their needs if you don't tell them the specifics. Other times the specifics are buried under a thick layer of marketese and bland slogans. Since users don't have time to read everything, such hidden info might almost as well not be there.

The worst example of not answering users' questions is to avoid listing the price of products and services. No B2C ecommerce site would make this mistake, but it's rife in B2B, where most "enterprise solutions" are presented so that you can't tell whether they are suited for 100 people or 100,000 people. Price is the most specific piece of info customers use to understand the nature of an offering, and not providing it makes people feel lost and reduces their understanding of a product line. We have miles of videotape of users asking "Where's the price?" while tearing their hair out.

--Jakob Nielsen
Read the rest in Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Web isn't just a support system for hit TV shows. It's a new medium. It requires new storytelling techniques. The way the networks look at the Internet now is like the early days of TV, when announcers would just read radio scripts on camera. It was boring in the same way all this supplemental material is boring.

--Miles Beckett
Read the rest in Wired News: The Secret World of Lonelygirl

Friday, November 24, 2006
don't lock the platform. I never even thought about buying a sidekick because of this. If I can't install what I want on it, it's not a computing device, it's just a fancy tin can, and I won't buy it.

--Marc Hedlund
Read the rest in O'Reilly Radar > Ten Things I Want From My Phone

Thursday, November 23, 2006

People often cite getting spammed by vendors as a barrier to online shopping. Users are right about this. Too many vendors believe that buying something is "opting in." No. To opt in on a mailing list is taking some specific action to get on that mailing list. It is never implicit in some other action. When I buy your product or contact support -- if I didn't specifically take steps to try to get on your e-mail list -- I have not opted in.

When you send opt-out mail, users get the message that you want them to jump through hoops for your pleasure. Users rightfully dislike this. If you want to encourage people to sign up for a mailing list, make it an option at purchase time. But remember, an option is something the user chooses; it is not something phrased as confusingly as possible in an area hidden past the submit button and written in small print.

Some sites carefully phrase their opt-out checkboxes to confuse users in hopes they will inadvertently sign up for the list. I have news for you: If reversing the sense of the question increases your subscriptions, that's because most users don't want to be on your list. Quit doing it!

If you get a reputation of not sending mail unless people ask for it, some people might ask for it. Don't rely on purchased security logos to give you a reputation. And please, don't casually assume the only thing anyone cares about is where you sell addresses. "We don't sell addresses, but we will send you daily junk mail for weeks" isn't an improvement. Make it clear what the options are, and if people don't ask to be on your list, leave them alone.

--Peter Seebach
Read the rest in The cranky user: Ho ho hum online retailers

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

HTML isn't a very good language for making Web pages. However, it has been a very good language for making the Web.

HTML's ease of learning and the view source capability for browsers has bootstrapped the Web's popularity in an amazing way. The World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) involvement in standardizing HTML has ensured that Web browsers all implement the same dialect, more or less. The emergence of CSS, and the corresponding growth of standards-based Web design as best practice has also averted HTML chaos and led to a better Web experience for users and developers alike.

This much you probably know. The resulting Web has probably made a positive impact on your life or business. Yet the fact remains, HTML isn't a very good language. Why, for instance, does HTML have headings H1 through H6? Who ever seriously used a six-level-deep heading hierarchy? And why, in this era of 3D-accelerated graphics cards and sophisticated user interfaces, are Web pages limited to clunky text boxes and radio buttons for user input?

--Edd Dumbill
Read the rest in The future of HTML, Part 1: WHATWG

Friday, November 17, 2006

No matter how hard I try, I still think the WS-* stack is bloated, opaque, and insanely complex. I think it’s going to be hard to understand, hard to implement, hard to interoperate, and hard to secure.

I look at Google and Amazon and EBay and Salesforce and see them doing tens of millions of transactions a day involving pumping XML back and forth over HTTP, and I can’t help noticing that they don’t seem to need much WS-apparatus.

I’m deeply suspicious of “standards” built by committees in advance of industry experience, and I’m deeply suspicious of Microsoft and IBM, and I’m deeply suspicious of multiple layers of abstraction that try to get between me and the messages full of angle-bracketed text that I push around to get work done.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in ongoing · The Loyal WS-Opposition

Thursday, November 16, 2006
The XML 1.0 specification requires all XML processors to support the UTF-8 and UTF-16 encodings. XML processors may support other encodings, but they are not required to. It follows that using any encoding other than UTF-8 or UTF-16 is unsafe, because the XML processor used by the recipient might not support the encoding. If you use an encoding other than UTF-8 or UTF-16 and communication fails, it is your fault. Arguments about particular legacy encodings being common in a particular locale (eg. Shift_JIS in Japan or ISO-8859-1 in Western Europe) are totally irrelevant here. (The xml:lang attribute can be used for CJK disambiguation. There is no need to use parochial encodings for that.)

--Henri Sivonen
Read the rest in HOWTO Avoid Being Called a Bozo When Producing XML

Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I have a bit of trouble understanding why XLink hasn't cought on. As W3C recommendations go, it is one of the more useful. XLinks are no more difficult to implement than the other linking solutions that litter W3C recommendations, and XLinks have the benefit of offering standardized and link processing and the promise of reusable link processing software.

--Henrik Martensson on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 21 Jan 2004

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
XML's principal advantage is the agreement about the syntax and the encoding that enables the REST and SOA advocates to disagree about everything else.

--Claude L (Len) Bullard on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 1 Aug 2005 08:53:29 -0500

Monday, November 13, 2006
This is a classic problem in HTML development: The people doing the work are geeks with computer-science interests who do not understand, for example, newspapers, or screenplays, or, really, print publishing in general. In some obscure way, they disdain print publishing, as the Web is not print. Indeed it isn’t, but print has structures the Web doesn’t, and it doesn’t have them because people like these refuse to acknowledge they exist or simply refuse to consider them.

--Joe Clark
Read the rest in How not to fix HTML – Le «blog personnel» de Joe Clark

Sunday, November 12, 2006

BEEP seems to me like the natural alternative for situations where XML over HTTP (minus the envelope) isn't enough. SOAP feels to me like a (peculiar) message format, while BEEP is a toolkit for sending your own message formats, whatever they might be. It uses XML and its own vocabulary where it's convenient, and then gets out of the way and lets you send whatever you like.

Cool stuff, definitely. Not that I expect the world to suddenly change, but good stuff is out there.

--Simon St.Laurent on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 10 Feb 2003

Saturday, November 11, 2006
It is also worth reflecting that in some sense XML has failed, to the extent that XML was an effort to deny that people needed reduced markup: reduced markup formats have thrived in the form of Wikis and even the dreaded SML/YAML/CVS/.ini files. XML's adoption has meant that Wiki formats are not specified using SGML, and so there is no standard way of extracting an XML-compatible informations set. XML has made a lot of information available with a standard infoset, but also alienated a lot of information that potentially could have been accessed with the same infoset.

--Rick Jelliffe on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 7 Jun 2006 03:34:13 +1000

Friday, November 10, 2006
Most people spend six months or so butting their preconceived notions of what's "important" against the REST constraints before realizing the benefits of REST. I am not surprised at all by that, since almost all of the design behind REST is focused on applications that need to survive for decades of independent evolution. We all know that our software industry rarely sees beyond today's build. Expecting "workaday developer teams" to quickly understand REST, no matter how carefully it is described, is just beyond reasonable expectations.

--Roy T. Fielding on the REST Discuss mailing list, Tuesday, 7 Nov 2006 10:57:03

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Microsoft is very directly responsible for spyware and adware and the pop-up ads in general that proliferated across the Web after they abandoned their product. I mean, this is the world's most-used software application ever ... and I just think it's irresponsible for a company to abandon it simply because they can't find a financial incentive to continue development on it.

--Blake Ross
Read the rest in Q&A with Firefox's Blake Ross: Extended version

Wednesday, November 8, 2006
XSLT is defined to take a source tree as input and there are no constraints on how the source tree is constructed: in effect, construction of source trees is something that happens outside the XSLT processor rather than within it. If someone wants to provide a utility that constructs a tree by deleting every second element, and they think there is a market for such a utility, they are welcome to do it.

--Michael Kay on the xsl-list mailing list, Wednesday, 17 Nov 2004

Tuesday, November 7, 2006
JavaScript is probably the most important language in the world today. Funny, huh? You'd think it would be Java or C++ or something. But I think it just might be JavaScript.

--Steve Yegge
Read the rest in Stevey's Blog Rants: Blogger's Block #3: Dreaming in Browser Swamp

Monday, November 6, 2006
Remember Y2K? If you worked in Information Technology in the waning days of the last millennium, you probably remember Y2K as a combination of Christmas and the hardest workday of your life. We'd programmed ourselves into a potential disaster with the way computers handled dates, and fixing the problem took several years and a reported $100 billion. Well if you liked Y2K, you'll LOVE IPv6.

--Mark Stephens
Read the rest in I, Cringely . The Pulpit . The $200 Billion Lunch | PBS

Sunday, November 5, 2006
the guys who are defining standards can't resist the urge to leave their personal stamp on the future - which results in standards that generally have been assembled based on a process of negotiation by committee. That doesn't really work. That's what gives us these insanely complex multi-optioned heavily layered standards that nobody really understands: every person on the committee had to lobby to get his or her favorite feature included.

--Marcus Ranum
Read the rest in Interview with Marcus Ranum

Saturday, November 4, 2006
REST is not an architecture that considers any single client or any single server. REST is about making a generic browser work across all service on the Internet (Well, strictly generic components of which the browser is one). It is an assumption of the REST architectural style that while the uniform interface will evolve over time and browser software will evolve with it, the creation of a new set of resources should not imply the authoring of new client-side code. Certainly you can create a specific Amazon browser, or ebay bidder program. However, I see these special-case applications as being outside of REST. REST is about making the generic browser possible.

--Benjamin Carlyle on the rest-discuss mailing list, Sunday, 02 Nov 2006 08:14:03

Friday, November 3, 2006
The common approach to stopping a SAX parser is to throw a SAXException from one of your handlers, but once you've done that you've terminated the parser. With an XMLPullParsingConfiguration you can stop parsing whenever you want, do something else and then resume parsing if you choose. You can process several documents in the same thread using this approach.

--Michael Glavassevich on the j-users mailing list, Tuesday, 25 Oct 2005 17:29:50

Thursday, November 2, 2006
When you talk to people who’ve heard about XForms, they like the idea in theory … until they encounter an actual XForms example. There’s a brief period of shock, a momentary glazing of eyes, then inevitable the utterance, “but it’s so … complicated!” Then they run off to the WHATWG Web Forms 2.0 project, and continue to spend man-years attempting to script what they could have had free.

--Kurt Cagle
Read the rest in Understanding XForms: The Model

Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Maybe I'm missing something, but these questions smell to me like "given that XML is the hammer, how do I make my data look like a nail?".

--Michael Champion on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 4 Oct 2005 08:34:45

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
every full-time web developer i know has switched to TextMate. the people i know who are light coders are the only ones who still use BBEdit, mainly because they 'grew up' with it or because TextMate is not 'obvious' enough (for HTML editing, that is).

--justin blecher on the WWWAC mailing list, Sunday, 26 Oct 2006 11:02:28

Monday, October 30, 2006

the web is more than just what web browser makers implement. Part of the reason for this is that web browser makers don't tend to make much money on web browsers, so their desire to pour development dollars into their proper maintenance is stunted. As a result, web technologies have flourished from numerous third parties who are helping to define the future nature of web content. Frankly, the browser makers so this coming and created the notion of a plugin precisely to allow web technologies to flourish without their having to do all the work. Really, it's analogous in that respect to open source.

I think the W3C has somewhat lost sight of these facts recently. There appears to be some fear that browser maker lag in implementing some of the recommendations equates with the W3C not "leading the web to its full potential." I respectfully disagree. The situation is not nearly so black and white. The web is supposed to work this way. The web cannot afford to be constrained to the limitations of a browser maker hegemony, especially when they don't even really want the job and have given us the tools to catch our own fish, so to speak.

--John Boyer
Read the rest in IBM developerWorks : Blogs : Workplace Forms and Next Generation Web Applications

Sunday, October 29, 2006
Have you ever noticed how, out of all the people you work with, the ones who read tech blogs are the strongest employees? It's not that reading blogs inherently makes you smarter, but in order to read tech blogs, you need to deeply care about technology and have a passion to improve yourself and learn more.

--Alex Papadimoulis
Read the rest in The Daily WTF

Saturday, October 28, 2006
The university needs Wikipedia more than Wikipedia needs the university.

--Elijah Meeks
Read the rest in The Chronicle: 10/27/2006: Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade?

Friday, October 27, 2006
I'm not the smartest monkey on the block, but generally when you toss me a specification in the Web and/or XML space I understand it on the first pass and after using it regularly for two weeks I only need to look up the odd detail (that's definitely the case with RelaxNG). I've been using XML Schema for three years, on a daily basis, and I'm still not familiar with it. It's guaranteed that if I hand-author even the simplest schema I'll make a mistake. The accumulated time I've spent trying to answer XML Schema questions by going through the spec with a thin comb is measured in months yet it's so convoluted and obfuscated that I'll forget the answer after a while.

--Robin Berjon on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 18 Aug 2005 15:25:33

Thursday, October 26, 2006
grouping is #1 on the list of applications that are not trivially easy in XSLT 1.0 and yet that beginners nevertheless try to start with. It's like a novice carpenter setting out to build cabinetry before learning to frame boxes and hang shelves....

--Wendell Piez on the xsl-list mailing list, Monday, 09 Oct 2006 12:04:17

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
If the Web 2.0 "movement" leads the Web to anything, it will lead it to Web 3.0, which will be a marketing buzzphrase used as an umbrella term covering the trendy new web-related technologies available at the time.

--Bob DuCharme on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 11 Aug 2005 09:31:37

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Even if you have the technology to be shared for creating ontologies, the inherently local nature of meaning indicates that bottom up approaches are likely to dominate. XML is successful precisely because it only constrains what is usefully sharable (mainly, syntax), and then utility drops off proportional to the size of the community of interest.

--Claude L (Len) Bullard on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 9 Nov 2004

Monday, October 23, 2006
I agonized for a long time over the fact that in reality URIs identify lots of different kinds of things and everybody was ignoring this elephant in the room. Weirdly enough, this angst never got in the way of my building spiders and search engines and visual maps of webspace and all sorts of other useful things. It is quite possible that the Web Architecture works *because* it works around the intractable problems of meaning and only deals with comparing identifiers and shuffling representations around; avoiding a lot of problems that historically have been intractable.

--Tim Bray on the WWW-TAG mailing list, Tuesday, 21 Jan 2003

Sunday, October 22, 2006
Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. That's not what we think design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

--Steve Jobs
Read the rest in Wired News: Straight Dope on the IPod's Birth

Friday, October 20, 2006
I have been testing IE 7, and I agree with Microsoft that it's much improved. If you are a confirmed IE user, upgrading to this new version makes perfect sense, because it is likely to be more secure and its new features make Web browsing better. But if you are already using Firefox, IE's main competitor, I see nothing in IE 7 that should make you switch. It's mostly a catch-up release, adding to IE some features long present in Firefox and other browsers. The one big feature in IE 7 that wasn't already in Firefox, a built-in detector that warns against fraudulent Web sites, is being added to Firefox in version 2.0.

--Walter S. Mossberg
Read the rest in Personal Technology

Thursday, October 19, 2006
I am not sure I believe anymore, that Microsoft "knows how to ship software". When a Microsoft engineer fixes a minor defect, makes something faster or better, makes an API more functional and complete, how do they "ship" that software to me? I know the answer and so do you... The software sits in a source code control system for a minimum of two years (significantly longer for some of the early Longhorn code). At some point, the product that the fix is a part of will "ship" meaning that CD's will be pressed and delivered to customers and OEM's. In best case scenarios, the software will reach end users a few months after the Release To Manufacturing (RTM) date. In many cases, particularly for users working in large corporations, they won't see the software for a year or more post RTM...

--Marc Lucovsky
Read the rest in Markl's Thoughts: Shipping Software

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Free software does have at least one big weakness. Despite the support of large companies, including IBM, a lot of free software doesn't have the protection of money and lawyers. Some people, including those at IPcentral, I think, would love to see free software projects slowed or killed off due to their lack of the bureaucracy and resources available to traditional companies. And many people would love to use the grossly dysfunctional patent system as a way of eliminating the threat and competition from free software.

--Scott Carpenter
Read the rest in Free software is a weak mode of production | Free Software Magazine

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Anybody who has worked in the software industry for more than a few weeks knows that the customers value their data far more than their code. The evidence for this is simple: they will pay you to throw away and replace their programs so long as you can preserve their data.

--Ken Downs
Read the rest in Andromeda Documentation

Monday, October 16, 2006
the general-purpose compression algorithms are very good. They can, in fact, "discover" most of the regularities in data which you might have hoped a special-purpose algorithm could more optimally exploit. (Discovering regularities is, after, all, exactly what a general-purpose compression algorithm *does*.) The engineering expense of designing, deploying, maintaining, and interoperating a special-purpose compression algorithm is, generally, not worth it.

--Steve Summit on the unicode mailing list, Wednesday, 20 Sep 2006 22:03:51

Sunday, October 15, 2006
This weekend I'll fix Word. Just as soon as I'm finished with world hunger and the AIDS epidemic. And those pesky windows on the Sears Tower.

--Gregg Reynolds on the Unicode mailing list, Tuesday, 02 Aug 2005 19:27:48

Friday, October 13, 2006
It's simply shortsighted (and idiotic) to invest in code tailored to a single browser, no matter how widespread its use, especially one that is technically completely out of date in regards to its standards support.

--David W. Fenton on the wwwac mailing list, Saturday, 02 Sep 2006 17:57:05

Thursday, October 12, 2006
If Congress wants to do something truly useful, they should force network providers to support multicast in every router. The capability is there already, just waiting to be turned on. Flicking that switch would do more to help multimedia applications (and to foster continued U.S. leadership in multimedia applications) than Congress can even imagine.

--Mark Stephens
Read the rest in PBS | I, Cringely . February 9, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

XML is sub-optimal for almost every task we use it for.

It is suboptimal as a document format for the Web. It is suboptimal as a wire format for distributed computing. It is suboptimal as a program configuration file format. It is suboptimal as a syntax for programming languages. It is suboptimal as an business document format.

However it is "good enough" at being all these things that we put up with it. Anyone can come up with a better format for their specific scenario. So what?

--Dare Obasanjo on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 1 Jun 2005 13:15:43

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Only a few things fit in a regular table, but a lot of things can fit in a tree.

--Joe English on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 01 Jun 2005 13:20:25

Sunday, October 8, 2006

there is a high probability that in the future XML will be replaced by something else, hopefully something better. I also hope that in a closer future we finally get out of the dark ages and the actual mainframe centric architecture connected to dumb terminals (something we call a browser).

It's incredible how fast we stepped backward. The evolution of the beginning 90s, compound documents (in a single package and with in place editing) and rich component based client-server environments disappeared; its like if dinosaurs came back and wiped out more intelligent life forms. After all these years I am still amazed to see how fast our software development community can recede so fast and evolve so slowly.

--Didier PH Martin on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 03 Jun 2005 13:02:13

Saturday, October 7, 2006

If you'll indulge me, I will instead share a poor product decision made about Netscape 7, and that is: it was released. More importantly, it was released without popup blocking, an egregious mistake given that:

  1. Popups dominated the Web in 2002.
  2. No major consumer browser blocked them natively.
  3. Mozilla 1.0 did, and that release was the basis of Netscape 7.

AOL ordered us to cut popup blocking because its web properties, especially Netscape.com, relied on the advertising format. Such is the life of an engineering organization which must design a browser for 20 billion websites and then optimize it for one of them. (See also: theming the browser to integrate seamlessly with that site while clashing savagely with all others.)

So Mozilla 1.0 came out in June with popup blocking, and Netscape 7 came out six months later without it, but offered, as consolation, 12 AOL icons on your desktop. Technology reviewers who understood the Netscape/Mozilla relationship did not miss the fact that Netscape went to additional trouble to remove popup blocking. To put it another way, all Netscape had to do to release one of the most compelling browser features in years was: nothing. They still managed to mess up for reasons I haven't yet figured out. During my tenure at Netscape, I sat through more meetings than we had users, throughout which people seemed very good at doing nothing.

--Blake Ross
Read the rest in The Daily WTF

Friday, October 6, 2006
I don't believe there is a Web 2.0 (beyond the conference, that is). We're not in Economy 27.0, are we? We don't live our lives with version numbers attached to them, thankyouverymuch. The future is bright, and I think that Web services are certainly going to lead the way. There's going to be another shakedown, only because the world can only have so many Flickrs and Deliciouses before it caves in upon itself. I find it ironic that Web 2.0 pretends to be a mashup of ideas, yet each idea wants to be its own idea independent of others - or a "killer" of other ideas. The entire "Web 2.0" movement is total bullsh*t.

--Chris Pirillo on the Opera Newsletter mailing list, Sunday, 05 Oct 2006 23:46:37

Thursday, October 5, 2006

XML is perhaps the worst programming language ever conceived. I’m not talking about XML as a data-description language, which was its original design. I’m talking about perverting XML for programming applications. It’s inappropriate to use XML as a scripting language (e.g., ANT), a test-description language (e.g., TestNG), an object-relational mapping language (e.g., Hibernate, JDO), a control-flow language (e.g., JSF), and so forth. These sorts of XML “programs” are unreadable, unmaintainable, an order of magnitude larger than necessary, and audaciously inefficient at runtime.

So, why would anybody use XML in this bizarre way? As far as I can tell, it’s because many so-called programmers just don’t know how to build a compiler.

--Alan Holub
Read the rest in SD Times

Wednesday, October 4, 2006
your e-mail seems to imply that the way things should work is that first we write a specification, and then we have implementations, and we somehow manage to get the specification perfect the first time. This isn't how things work. To get a specification, we first have to have experimental implementations and proof-of-concepts, we have to do research into authoring practices, etc. Only once implementors and authors have experience can they give the spec writers feedback that allow us to write a useful spec.

--Ian Hickson on the www-math mailing list, Monday, 2 Oct 2006 21:45:13 +0000

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
I would still strongly advocate implementing complex transformations as a pipeline (a sequence of simple transformations), but more for software engineering reasons (modularity, maintainability, reusability) than for raw performance. However, that's not contradictory: you can't improve performance unless you can measure it and analyze it, and that's far more likely to be feasible if you adopt a clean pipeline architecture. A pipeline also gives you more opportunities to reconfigure the processing, e.g. to run different parts on different machines, cache intermediate results, do some parts eagerly and other parts lazily, etc.

--Michael Kay on the xsl-list mailing list, Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 09:12:03

Friday, September 29, 2006
I would say that furious debates about elements-vs-attributes have been going on since the dawn of XML in 1998, but that would be untrue; they've been going on since the dawn of XML's precursor SGML in 1986. They have never led anywhere. After you've noticed that if you need nested element structure you're stuck with elements, and if you don't want to have two things with the same names attributes can help, there really aren't any deterministic decision procedures.

--Tim Bray on the atom-syntax mailing list, Tuesday, 23 May 2006 14:31:37

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It is well known that browser developers are too lazy to fix their HTTP bugs, that none of the content type issues would exist if the browser developers simply fixed their bugs, and that eventually a security exploit will put them out of business anyway. Market forces.

The only thing the TAG can do is document how the architecture is supposed to work, and thus who to blame when bugs get exploited.

--Roy T. Fielding on the www-tag mailing list, Tuesday, 8 Aug 2006 17:18:18

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When you talk to people who’ve heard about XForms, they like the idea in theory … until they encounter an actual XForms example. There’s a brief period of shock, a momentary glazing of eyes, then inevitable the utterance, “but it’s so … complicated!” Then they run off to the WHATWG Web Forms 2.0 project, and continue to spend man-years attempting to script what they could have had free.

--Kurt Cagle
Read the rest in Understanding XForms: The Model

Monday, September 25, 2006
Obviously XML is capable of representing the information. (Almost any syntax can.) Obviously modeling more than toy versions of human technologies (typesetting, mathematics, chemistry) is not trivial. Obviously there are tradeoffs, and deciding to make some things easy may in fact make other things hard. And, most obviously, when people master an existing tool, they can be loathe to adopt another. Consequently there will always be people who aren't served optimally or adequately by any single standard. That is why plurality is important. That a technology is not perfect just means it is a human technology.

--Rick Jelliffe on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 24 Jul 2006 21:03:53

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I keep reading people talking about things like "ontologies" and "graph structures" and "relationship semantics" and I have to confess that it all starts to meld into "bleah bleah bleah."

I'm sure these are important issues. But at the end of the day, I want to know why I can't take this:

<link location="http://www.prodigal.ca">This is a link</link>

and style it as a link in a web browser. I want to know why I can't model behavior and display like <img> and <a> and <object> in plain XML without resorting to XHTML tags. I want to know why I can't repurpose a link's behavior for different display situations.

--Ben Trafford on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 22 Sep 2006 18:22:46

Friday, September 22, 2006
XHTML2 has taken a perfect trajectory between backwards-compatible concepts, semantics and syntax and abstract idealism. XHTML2 appears to cleanly fix all the outstanding problems with HTML once and for all. Now, part of XHTML2 is XForms. XForms does the same cleaning up job on HTML forms that XHTML2 does on HTML.

--Duncan Cragg
Read the rest in The Right Way to do Ajax is Declaratively | What Not How | http://duncan

Thursday, September 21, 2006
Relative number of users has *nothing* to do with it. If you code to standards, 99.9% of it will work on Firefox, Safari, Opera and every other modern browser *except* IE. IE, on the other hand, won't even be standards-compliant with the new IE 7. So, code to the standards, and implement workarounds for the bad browser, IE.

--David W. Fenton on the wwwac mailing list, Saturday, 02 Sep 2006 17:57:05

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
A long time ago, I was working on MSN 1.0, and there was a long line of content providers working to make deals with Microsoft to put their content on the Microsoft Network, but in those days, it wasn’t clear exactly who should be paying who, so hardly any deals got made. In the meantime, the whole Web thing happened, where anybody could provide content without signing a deal with a Microsoft executive, and there was tons of content, and some of it was garbage, yes, but some of it was good, and we found the good stuff, and it floated to the top, and all was well, but Sprint doesn’t get this. They relish their ability to serve as the gatekeeper to what they hope will become a new medium, because the gatekeeper gets to charge tolls. And it’s 2006, and I almost can’t believe I’m writing this, because way back in 2000 I wrote almost exactly the same thing about WAP, and how cell phone companies keep failing to insert themselves as toll collectors because they’re so darn clueless about how the Internet works, and about the value of many-to-many networks instead of broadcast networks.

--Joel Spolsky
Read the rest in Joel on Software

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
In one session I chaired at XML 2004, I asked attendees to hold up their hands if they thought that RELAX NG should be used in cases where Schema is now required. In a room of about 40 people, 5 raised their hands. I've no beef against XSD, and I've written a DTD or two in my day, but this situation where the W3C and certain very large unnamed vendors ignore RELAX isn't right. OTOH, based on that admittedly off the cuff poll (god knows some might have thought I was asking if they preferred LSD to relaxing), it seems not enough users know about RELAX NG or appreciate the merits.

--Claude L (Len) Bullard on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 24 Nov 2004

Monday, September 18, 2006
worrying about any alleged space "inefficiency" of Unicode sounds like the worst kind of false economy. This is not, after all, 1960, or 1972, or even 1990. Today, hardly anyone does anything with plain text. Everyone uses HTML, or XML, or Microsoft Word .doc, or PDF. All of these formats bloat the byte count -- sometimes quite spectacularly -- beyond what a hypothetical flat-ASCII representation would consume, yet few are worrying about this.

--Steve Summit on the unicode mailing list, Sunday, 17 Sep 2006 22:16:47

Saturday, September 16, 2006
Our testing exposed a misunderstanding about project progress. What management thought the status was and what the actual status was did not match. We were told it was done, but it was not. This enabled management to correct their misunderstanding of project status so they could plan and react accordingly. This - aside from all the testing related issues identified - is valuable information. People hold meetings and purchase expensive tools to find out what we found out in 5 minutes of testing and asking questions.

--Mike Kelly
Read the rest in Testing early for the first time... | testingReflections.com

Friday, September 15, 2006
Sometimes I wonder if CDATA should not have been left out of the XML spec; it seems to create far too much confusion to be worthwhile.

--Aristotle Pagaltzis on the Atom Syntax mailing list, Sunday, 23 Mar 2006 18:47:26

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information, and for us to compromise I think would send very much the wrong signal: that there's no one left on the planet who's willing to say "You know what? We're not going to give up."

--Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia
Read the rest in The Observer | World | Wikipedia defies China's censors

Monday, September 11, 2006
We should particularly notice Microsoft’s agreement that XML is where everyone is going for storing editable documents. This is a point of strong agreement between Microsoft, Massachusetts, and most of the rest of the information technology community (including office suite suppliers, other organizations who manage or manipulate data in documents, and customers that use or generate documents). XML is where everyone is going, not because it just happens to be there, but because XML can help solve some serious government problems like data interoperability and long-term storage.

--David A. Wheeler
Read the rest in GROKLAW

Saturday, September 9, 2006
XML in all its flavors (XHTML, SVG, XForms, etc.) is preferable to being chained to legacy content based on a single transitory format (HTML). I am not alone in thinking that HTML is not a suitable base for going forward, unless it is the XML characterization of XHTML.

--Doug Schepers on the public-appformats mailing list, Sunday, 31 Aug 2006 18:29:55

Friday, September 8, 2006
avoid using white text on a black background. Such Web pages usually try to appear cool and edgy, but instead often comes off as immature in the eyes of an Internet veteran, and sinister to the Internet newbie.

--Michael J. Ross
Read the rest in Slashdot | CSS: The Missing Manual

Thursday, September 7, 2006
worrying about scalability up front at the architectural level is often prudent. You can easily go overboard with the scalability concern, however, because many systems will never need to scale. Sometimes it is preferable to get the system out the door quickly on one server to start getting real-world feedback, and deal with scaling later if you actually need to. Nevertheless, if you think there's a good chance you'll need to scale up eventually, worrying about how you will do so early on can make it much faster and cheaper to do so later, if that day does indeed arrive.

--Bill Venners on the artima-newsletter mailing list, Wednesday, 3 May 2006 00:20:01

Wednesday, September 6, 2006
XML is already too complex for the mythical DPH. You simply can't, no matter how much caffeinated cola you are force-perfused, write an XML parser in a single sitting — not to mention some of the other specifications you may want to have to make said XML usable.

--Robin Berjon on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 30 Aug 2006 03:39:59

Monday, September 4, 2006
if a schema is passed by Xerces, MSXML3, XSV, and Saxon then it's a good schema, and if you get differences between these processors then you're probably in an area where the spec is wobbly.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005 11:55:40

Sunday, September 3, 2006
In the good old days, “alpha” used to mean “all features are implemented though not necessarily working properly.” “Beta” used to mean “there are no more repeatable bugs.” Nowadays beta means “we've gone as long as possible past the shipping date that we promised our investors.”

--Guy Kawasaki
Read the rest in Signum sine tinnitu-

Saturday, September 2, 2006
It has been argued, that since the future lies with XHTML (although that is yet to be seen), we should be teaching XHTML from the ground up. That sounds nice in theory, but the reality is that we’re still teaching in a predominately text/html environment, and the fact is: trying to teach XHTML under HTML (tag-soup) conditions is like trying to teach a child to swim by throwing them in the deep end and not realising they’re drowning until it’s too late. When it comes to XHTML: there is far too much for a beginner to learn, not to mention the significant issues of browser support, that we must simply accept that they’re not ready and teach them HTML instead.

--Lachlan Hunt
Read the rest in XHTML is not for Beginners

Friday, September 1, 2006

People ask me, "Well, gee, if IE7 is starting to catch up to Firefox, and if they've got their hand back in development right now, and eventually they might actually catch up to Firefox in terms of features, what's the benefit of using Firefox? Why are you guys still around if you say that your only goal is just to make the Web a better place?"

My answer to that is, how much can you really trust a company that five years ago completely left you abandoned? If they do, in fact, succeed in taking back some of the market share that Firefox has gotten back from them, who's to say that they're not going to disappear again? My issue is not so much at a product level, it's at a company level. How do you trust a company that left everyone out in the cold for five years?

--Blake Ross
Read the rest in Q&A with Firefox's Blake Ross: Extended version

Thursday, August 31, 2006

the problem with edi is that it is a huge standard encompassing just about every aspect of electronic trading and can cope with just about every trading relationship. which means 90% (my guess) of it is not needed in any particular trading instance.

so industry trading groups sit down and agree on which parts of the standard they will use, and how they will use them. typically the largest purchaser in a trading group will dominate and determine how these things will be done.

then everyone else sits down with interpreters and tools and makes sure they can interpret the necessary bits correctly.

as an aside, there's a lot of redundancy in many of the message formats too.

it also forces everyone to learn how to deal at the most complex level.....

i have yet to see any evidence that ebxml has made this simpler, or indeed can make it simpler. i can't see how it reduces the trade group needs to negotiate the semantics of the messages, the specific use of different terms. and now before you can even start to interpret messages you need to fully describe your business model.

--Rick Marshall on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 14 Jul 2004

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Using word is much easier than using emacs... but using word and keeping it from breaking things is about as hard as using emacs.

--Nathan Young on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 6 Dec 2005 14:40:19

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
traditional peer review has already been abandoned. Physicists and mathematicians today mainly communicate via a Web site called arXiv. (The X is supposed to be the Greek letter chi; it's pronounced "archive." If you were a physicist, you'd find that hilarious.) Since 1991, arXiv has been allowing researchers to post prepublication papers for their colleagues to read. The online journal Biology Direct publishes any article for which the author can find three members of its editorial board to write reviews. (The journal also posts the reviews – author names attached.) And when PLoS ONE launches later this year, the papers on its site will have been evaluated only for technical merit – do the work right and acceptance is guaranteed.

--Adam Rogers
Read the rest in Wired 14.09: START

Monday, August 28, 2006
Those who wish to get out of the XML frying pan might remember the fire down below. XML has many disadvantages, especially for object serialization, but those problems pale in comparison to the problems of not having a universal data interchange format. XML's main benefit is simply that it is universal, and good enough for most types of information even if it isn't optimal for any. Lots of applications might appear at first glance to be all text or all data ... but I think XML got popular partly because there are even more requirements for information interchange that are somewhere in the middle - some mixture of human readable text and machine processable data.

--Michael Champion on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 07 Jun 2006 22:36:28

Sunday, August 27, 2006
China's long-term vision is clear: an Internet that feels free and acts as an engine of economic progress yet in no way threatens the Communist Party's monopoly on power. With every passing day the Chinese Internet reflects that vision more closely. It portends a future for the Web that we're only beginning to understand—one in which powerful countries refashion the global network to suit themselves.

--Tim Wu
Read the rest in The Filtered Future

Saturday, August 26, 2006
What in my opinion reduces XInclude's usefulness is that it's not transparent to users and hidden at the parsing level, but is its own XML application which requires explicit invocation and attention.

--Frans Englich on the www-dom mailing list, Saturday, 16 Apr 2005 14:53:24

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Consider the .NET framework for a second. Suppose you wrote something innocent like a screen saver, written in C# based on the .NET framework. How would you as an ISV "ship your software"? You can't. Not unless you sign up to ship Microsoft's software as well. You see, the .NET Framework isn't widely deployed. It is present on a small fraction of machines in the world. Microsoft built the software, tested it, released it to manufacturing. They "shipped it", but it will take years for it to be deployed widely enough for you, the ISV to be able to take advantage of it. If you want to use .NET, you need to ship Microsoft's software for them. Isn't this an odd state of affairs? Microsoft is supposed to be the one that "knows how to ship software", but you are the one doing all the heavy lifting. You are the one that has to ship their software the last mile, install it on end user machines, ensure their machines still work after you perform this platform level surgery.

When an Amazon engineer fixes a minor defect, makes something faster or better, makes an API more functional and complete, how do they "ship" that software to me? What is the lag time between the engineer completing the work, and the software reaching its intended customers? A good friend of mine investigated a performance problem one morning, he saw an obvious defect and fixed it. His code was trivial, it was tested during the day, and rolled out that evening. By the next morning millions of users had benefited from his work. Not a single customer had to download a bag of bits, answer any silly questions, prove that they are not software thieves, reboot their computers, etc. The software was shipped to them, and they didn't have to lift a finger. Now that's what I call shipping software.

--Marc Lucovsky
Read the rest in Markl's Thoughts: Shipping Software

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
while URIs don't have to be meaningful for REST, they should be -- similarly to identifier names in a programming language. Sure, you can name your variables "asdlalsdjfladjfaiswu" and still have a valid Java, C# or Ruby program. That doesn't mean that you should.

--Stefan Tilkov on the rest-discuss mailing list, Monday, 7 Aug 2006 16:46:23

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I would definitely agree that there are areas where XML is not the best choice by most measures. My personal feeling about that though is that stating unequivocably that XML should not be used for X, Y or Z is absurd -- people will try it and either prove to themselves that it doesn't work in those situations, or they will discover that, contrary to expectations, XML DOES work pretty well in X, Y and Z. The good ideas will propagate, the bad ones will fade away, and every so often someone will discover that while XML doesn't work for ONE use case in a given problem domain, there may very well be a related use case where it is eminently well suited. That's what innovation is all about.

--Kurt Cagle on the xml-dev mailing list, Thu, 27 Jan 2005 22:56:18 -0800

Monday, August 21, 2006
For a number of application areas (especially "document" related areas, as opposed to "data," for whatever that distinction is worth), there is currently no way to move away from DTDs, because entities cannot be defined except in DTDs

--Amelia A Lewis on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 4 Feb 2005 15:48:03

Sunday, August 20, 2006
If you don't first underdo it, then overdo it, how do you do know how much is enough?

--J. B. Rainsberger on the junit mailing list, Sunday, 17 Aug 2006 18:59:29

Friday, August 18, 2006
DTDs and XML with namespaces don't play well together.

--andrew welch on the xsl-list mailing list, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2005 11:01:44

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Most of the new features in XSLT 2.0 directly address the tasks that 1.0 users find difficult or impossible: grouping, conditional expressions, functions, date and time handling, sequences, multiple output files, text input files, conditional compilation, tunnel parameters, regular expressions, collations, namespace manipulation, next-match, generalized path expressions, intersect and except operators, the "is" operator, the "to" operator.

There are other things in XSLT 2.0 that attempt to strengthen the foundations, in the belief that if all you do is add the surface functionality that users know they need, the edifice is in danger of collapsing. Notable here is the introduction of a richer and more rigorous type system. This is about making the language more scaleable and robust, and making it suitable for new applications at the same time as making life easier for existing users.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 31 Dec 2004

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Choosing OpenDocument does not mandate open source software, nor does it mandate proprietary software. OpenDocument is a choice that lets you choose. Choosing Microsoft’s XML format locks you into one supplier for now and possibly forever; it certainly doesn’t lead to a road with full and open competition. Even if it is legal to implement the format, which the legal analysis earlier makes doubtful, and even if competitors implement it fully (which may be technically difficult since it was not reviewed through a consensus process), the complete control of Microsoft’s XML format by Microsoft into the future serves as a deterrent to competition. Microsoft appears to have a right to limit who can use their proprietary XML format in the U.S., according to current U.S. law; but customers have a right to avoid it, too.

-- David A. Wheeler
Read the rest in GROKLAW

Monday, August 14, 2006
as is often the case, change and innovation are coming from the edges of the network, and HTML is now the Gorgon in the center.

--Claude L (Len) Bullard, on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 24 Jul 2006 08:49:18

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Specialist client-side Javascripts are a mistake. They break the generic Web client model: hand-crafted thick clients are hard to make cross-browser compatible, they add to download times, they are tied to specific application servers, they break the browsing experience (bookmarking, linking, history) and miss the benefits of the Web's cacheing architecture.

We should be writing Declarative pages to exploit generic Javascripts and plugins or extensions (such as SVG, XForms and other Declarative technologies). These generic facilities will effectively extend the concept of the browser, from one that deals primarily with one-way static documents, to one that deals with two-way dynamic data.

After some time, the browsers themselves will be written to new standards that make those browser-redefining Javascripts and plugins irrelevant.

--Duncan Cragg
Read the rest in The Right Way to do Ajax is Declaratively | What Not How | http://duncan

Saturday, August 12, 2006
Copyright is a deal between the authors and the people (the latter represented by the government.) The people want to increase the amount of writings and inventions available, and the government says OK, to encourage you to produce we will give you a temporary artifical limited monopoly so you can get some royalty income on your stuff. The idea of copyright only dates from the 1700s, and until recent decades its scope was much less than it is now, while still being quite adequate to encourage a flood of books, music, and inventions. When Uncle Tom's Cabin came out in the 1850s and became the country's first runaway best seller, the copyright term was only 28 years, renewable for another 14. There were a zillion plays based on it, because copyright didn't cover derivative works. There was a translation into German, widely spoken by recent immigrants, and it didn't need permission, either.* Nonetheless we had a robust publishing industry. Term extensions were originally motivated by whiny authors complaning that their widows would starve without it (Mark Twain was a major whiner), and in more recent years by straightforward corporate lobbying, not by any serious belief that longer terms would make people write more stuff.

--John Levine on the cbp mailing list, Sunday, Aug 2006 01:02:04

Friday, August 11, 2006
I had expected there would be more of a profusion of domain-specific browsers. I think Microsoft managed to stuff that up, with their Java-busting J++ shennanigans; and IBM has put the nail in the coffin with SWT. Sun also abandoned their Hot Java browser development, so they missed the opportunity to provide a cross-platform browser host based on pure Java. Thanks boys.

--Rick Jelliffe on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 24 Jul 2006 21:03:53

Thursday, August 10, 2006
I find XSLT itself reasonably lucid; it's XPath that I find obscure and hard-to-remember.

--Jack Cleaver on the xsl-list mailing list, Friday, 14 Jul 2006 13:18:05

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

There’s an important lesson in here somewhere. Long-term data preservation is like long-term backup: a series of short-term formats, punctuated by a series of migrations. But migrating between data formats is not like copying raw data from one medium to another. If I can plug both types of media into the same computer (or even the same network), I can migrate raw data from one generation to the next (I just did it with my ReadyNAS). Then there are various things you can do (checksums and so forth) to verify that the data was copied 100% correctly. But converting data into a different format is much trickier, and there’s the potential of data loss or data degradation at every turn.

Fidelity is not a binary thing. Data can gradually degrade with each conversion until you’re left with crap. People think this only affects the analog world, like copying cassette tapes for several generations. But I think digital preservation is actually much harder, in part because people don’t even realize that it has the same issues.

--Mark Pilgrim
Read the rest in Juggling oranges [dive into mark]

Monday, August 7, 2006
XML is in part useful for communication between loosely coupled organizations, and experience suggests that author and consumer may evolve their software at different times. The trick with versioning is not to have a "shared schema deemed useful", but an ability to detect the degree to which interoperation is safe between two parties who may have somewhat differing views of the schemas.

--Noah Mendelsohn on the www-tag mailing list, Monday, 9 Jan 2006 18:13:10

Friday, August 4, 2006

One of the most frequently asked questions in my Web usability course is "What screen resolution should we design for?" The full answer is a bit tricky, but the basic advice is clear:

  • Do not design solely for a specific monitor size because screen sizes vary among users. Window size variability is even greater, since users don't always maximize their browsers (especially if they have large screens).
  • Use a liquid layout that stretches to the current user's window size (that is, avoid frozen layouts that are always the same size).
  • Optimize for 1024x768, which is currently the most widely used screen size. Of course, the general guideline is to optimize for your target audience's most common resolution, so the size will change in the future. It might even be a different size now, if, say, you're designing an intranet for a company that gives all employees big monitors.

Currently, about 60% of all monitors are set at 1024x768 pixels. In comparison, only about 17% use 800x600 so it's obviously less important to aim at perfection for these small-display users. What's equally obvious, however, is that you can't simply ignore 17% of your customer segment by providing a frozen layout that requires more screen space than they have available.

--Jakob Nielsen
Read the rest in Screen Resolution and Page Layout (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Thursday, August 3, 2006
proprietary companies so far have been traditionally much better at being able to actually get out of the echo chamber and listen to real users. A lot of open-source projects, because they're started by developers for developers -- people scratching their own itch -- tend to end up with very geeky products. They don't believe in marketing, they don't believe in the mainstream. They're supposed to be the anti-mainstream, right, so it's very hard for most open-source projects to break out of that mentality, and I think that we've had some success there with Firefox.

--Blake Ross
Read the rest in Q&A with Firefox's Blake Ross: Extended version

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

is there anyone on this list who is in the "XML Industry" because of its tremendous cash producing prospects in and of itself. I've always been under the impression that XML is and always has been viewed as a necessary, enabling technology that allows the rest of the software industry to finally play well together and as such our lives easier and more productive.

But wheres the money in "plays well with others"?

The money's in "kicks the snot out of anybody who comes near him." I figure if I'm paying cash I'm paying to watch my team beat the living hell out of the other team not the "oh, sorry bout' that... you ok... shoot, I didn't mean to knock you down like that... Maybe we should just play tag instead?"

--M. David Peterson on the xml-dev mailing list, Saturday, 9 Jul 2005 01:54:00

Tuesday, August 1, 2006
I cannot emphasize this enough: deliberately tunneling HTTP methods under another method is evil. To the extent that such companies have an established policy against accepting PUT, they intend it to prevent applications like Atom from being deployed within their networks. We have no right to violate their security policies just because *we* think Atom is a safe application. Companies must be allowed to learn that themselves and adjust their policies accordingly.

--Roy T. Fielding on the atom-protocol mailing list, Monday, 24 Jul 2006 22:25:12

Monday, July 31, 2006
XML technology provided crucial technology that changed the dynamics of the market forces. Music notation software is a small market. Being able to leverage the XML tools investments made by much larger markets was a huge change in the environment. Parsers have been the immediate attraction, but databases may follow in the future.

--Michael Good on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 27 Dec 2005 22:54:29

Sunday, July 30, 2006
REST isn't some new idea that was just dreamed up. There are many apps out there built with these techniques. They tend to be the highly scalable ones.

--Nic Ferrier on the rest-discuss mailing list, Saturday, 15 Apr 2006 01:58:17

Saturday, July 29, 2006
The nice part about declarative programming is that the computer takes care of all the boring fiddly detail.

--Stephen Pemberton, XTech 2006
Read the rest in The Right Way to do Ajax is Declaratively | What Not How | http://duncan

Friday, July 28, 2006
Browsers which display bad HTML as if there were no problems promote the proliferation of bad HTML web pages.

--James Kass on the Unicode mailing list, Sunday, 13 Jul 2006 23:25:41

Thursday, July 27, 2006
It used to be that the client was twenty times smaller than the server. That's not the case anymore. There are clients that are bigger than operating systems--it's grotesque. There is nothing thin about the client anymore.

--Timothy Keanini, nCircle
Read the rest in Browsers feel the fuzz

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
when the idea of XML + XSLT was first stirred up, I think there was a window of time in which the idea could be rapidly adopted, or pushed to the side. Inconsistencies and defectiveness of the browser support meant it was pushed the side.

--Mitch Amiano on the xml-dev mailing list, Saturday, 22 Jul 2006 18:09:24

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
i remember when we used to debate whether digital could ever really replace analog - i mean you need 3 times the bandwidth for digital - but it has - ubiquitously. will text only replace binary? yes. it's inevitable.

--Rick Marshall on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 10 Feb 2005 07:27:33

Monday, July 24, 2006
Don't write your interactive Web application in custom Javascript! The Web's Declarative nature needn't be broken just because you want two-way dynamic data instead of one-way documents on your site.

--Duncan Cragg
Read the rest in The Right Way to do Ajax is Declaratively | What Not How | http://duncan

Sunday, July 23, 2006
It may be the case that XSD is overbuilt but there are alternatives. It may be the case that XML is too verbose but there are alternatives. It may be that namespaces open portals to hell, but... well there is no but for that one.

--Claude L (Len) Bullard on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 26 Oct 2004

Friday, July 21, 2006
The dot-com boom was largely about "genius" MBAs coming up with brilliant ideas for online companies, for example. They spent ages in meetings blowing hot air, drawing up financial charts, and coming up with marketing plans. The actual technical implementation was considered so unimportant that they took it for granted they'd just pay some "geek" to put the finishing techie touches on their fabulous creation. The reality was that the techie-implementation was where they usually failed. Meanwhile, techies built websites like Google, EBay and Yahoo simply because they knew how all the nuts-and-bolts worked.

--Paul Knapp Read the rest in Sorry businesspeople, but you need techies to build technology

Thursday, July 20, 2006
To boost sagging sales, the AMC chain is setting aside a few screens in most of their theaters to play art, foreign, and independent films. It's not going to work. They could, however, stop torturing their patrons by playing 20 minutes of commercials and trailers before each feature. But, its now become a Catch-22. Patrons are staying away because of this, so theater owners are adding even MORE commercials to make up for the lost business.

--Elliott Kanbar, Quad Cinema on the quadcinema mailing list, Friday, 7 Jul 2006 09:11:34 -0400

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Charges of arrogance are not necessarily a criticism of how one behaves when one is wrong: often they are a criticism of how one behaves when one is right.

--John Hudson on the Unicode mailing list, Sunday, 15 May 2005 18:34:30

Monday, July 17, 2006
I refer to writing for interactive communications as writing in 3-D. It's not at all like a narrative, it's more along the lines of putting snippets of content on each of the blocks in a rubicks cube and making sure that no matter how much it's turned and twisted it still is informative, makes sense and has context.

--Martin T. Focazio on the WWWAC mailing list, Wednesday, 12 Jul 2006 10:25:39

Sunday, July 16, 2006

OpenDocument is a threat to Microsoft’s bottom line. Period. The revenue stream generated by locking customers into closely guarded proprietary file formats is the proverbial golden goose for Microsoft.

Think about it. Protecting those file formats must be worth countless millions, if not billions, of dollars to Microsoft. That’s why Microsoft is paying attention to ODF, and it’s why you should keep paying attention, too, even if digital file formats aren’t normally your thing. Because, if your business relies on office applications, that’s your money.

--Neil Mcallister
Read the rest in Why Redmond feels so threatened by ODF

Thursday, July 13, 2006
The RELAX NG versus XSD competition is bogus, consequently treating one as the winner and one as the loser at this stage is bogus. They are both grammar languages, and in many cases you can substitute one for the other. In fact, it seems that people rarely use the features in one that are not also not in the other, at least for public schemas.

--Rick Jelliffe on the xml-dev mailing list, Saturday, 08 Jul 2006 22:48:56

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I think the first advantage has nothing to do with the fact that the code is open source so much as the fact that open source projects tend to be much smaller and much less bureaucratic than large organizations. So, for example, if you look at Microsoft, even if there were engineers inside the company who wanted to continue work on Internet Explorer (several years ago) -- which I'm sure there were, because they're not evil people -- they couldn't do it, because the company disbanded the team. If you wanted to work on IE, you could not do that at the company's directive.

Obviously in open source, you have much more control over the lifetime and life cycle of your product, and you can really take it in your own direction. That's been an amazing benefit to us in Firefox, especially after having worked at Netscape for two years, and seeing kind of the junk that went on at that company. So number one, I think open source provides a much tighter-knit community of developers working together, which I think tends to produce better products.

Obviously the fact that the code is freely available has implications in terms of security, because any security expert can review your code, there's no secrets. And you've really got a global community of volunteers working on this project every day. So if you do something that offends some other country, you're going to hear about it from the citizens of that country who work on the product. It's very easy to develop a globally aware product in an open-source community.

--Blake Ross
Read the rest in Q&A with Firefox's Blake Ross: Extended version

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I refuse to accept any argument from Google that they're doing this for the good of humanity's collective knowledge base until they remove the relevant restrictions on access and use from their Terms of Service.

Google claims the right to profit off of the work of others, but then specifically bars anyone else from doing so with their own work. Sorry, can't have it both ways.

--Adam Fields on the WWWAC mailing list, Saturday, 8 Jul 2006 23:14:33

Monday, July 10, 2006
I have no issues when JSON is used as a convenient object serialization format between components in a relatively tightly coupled distributed application, e.g. Google Maps. Serializing information into a syntax that can be directly parsed into JS objects makes sense, for optimization if nothing else. But what happens in more loosely coupled scenarios, where somebody else's app, maybe written in a compiled language, has to use your data? What happens when you need to start supporting HTML markup of the text fields in those objects? JSON will hit a brick wall, and so will S-Expressions AFAIK.

--Michael Champion on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 07 Jun 2006 22:36:28

Sunday, July 9, 2006
"Stability" in a standard does not mean that the standard never changes. It means that, as much as possible, it does not change in a way that causes existing implementations or data to break.

--Doug Ewell on the Unicode mailing list, Tuesday, 1 Mar 2005 19:47:22

Friday, July 7, 2006
XML is unbiased regarding typing, you can leave it in a vanilla untyped state or you can use an external definition to enforce any typing system that you like onto it, as strict or lax as you want, as static or dynamic as you wish, etc. This means that your data is a lot more useful, since different kinds of processing applied to it can see it using the typing approach most suitable to them, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all typing approach that has historically consistently failed to be generally useful in describing the world.

--Robin Berjon on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 18:45:50

Thursday, July 6, 2006

There are more risk factors in the layer above the OS, the application layer. I still need to be vigilant about the formats that specific applications use to store data I care about preserving. Open source != open formats, and there are many examples of undocumented and underdocumented data formats in open source applications. The GIMP is a particularly egregious example. Its default .xcf format can only be read by GIMP and is deliberately undocumented outside the source code. GIMP only exports to formats with massive fidelity loss (you can export the final result but not in any editable form that includes layers and effects and brushes and so on). There are only a handful of third-party converters, and none of them are anywhere near complete. This is no better than Microsoft Office; in fact, it’s probably worse. In practice, Microsoft Office documents have better interoperability, because third parties have spent more time reverse-engineering the formats and handling all the edge cases.

--Mark Pilgrim
Read the rest in Juggling oranges [dive into mark]

Wednesday, July 5, 2006
HTTP and XML, the things that REST-flavored lightweight services are based on, have been stable, ratified, international standards for a decade or so, while the legion of WS-* specs are still mostly unratified by anyone but their authors at IBM and Microsoft. There’s only one option available today that’s actually standards-based.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in ongoing · WS

Tuesday, July 4, 2006
As with any meta-language, of course, XML has an effect on the semantics of its applications. XML invites us first of all to consider information as having structure. This distinguishes it not from database systems, which have always emphasized the fine-grained structure of information, but from contemporary document processing, which frequently fails to allow the meaningful exploitation of document structure. Good XML design places so much emphasis on information structure that some partisans of descriptive markup are surprised and amused when they hear that database theorists describe documents as semi-structured.

--C. M. Sperberg-Mcqueen
Read the rest in ACM Queue - XML and Semi-Structured Data - What role can XML play in solving the semi

Monday, July 3, 2006

XML was not designed to be used as a format for transient data that is en route from the database to the browser. People are using it for that task, and once you're sold on XML you will probably want to use it for that task, but that's not the job it was designed for.

XML is capable of holding information that is far richer in structure than the rows and columns of a relational database. If you don't feel that rows-and-columns are constraining you then either you don't really need XML at all, or you've become locked into a way of thinking that because tables are the only thing you can store, tables must be what users want.

--Michael Kay on the xsl-list mailing list, Wednesday, 19 May 2004

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Here's a question I hope Bill Gates has asked himself: "What's the likelihood that 10 years from now Microsoft will have 70-plus percent market share in; a) television software, and; b) mobile phone software?"

In both cases the odds are very much against Microsoft, yet Microsoft's theory of business absolutely requires that it succeed spectacularly on at least one of these platforms and preferably both.

So the company is in crisis and that crisis comes down to every one of those five stages of dealing with death as defined originally in 1969 by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Microsoft has been in denial for most of the five years and $5 billion of Longhorn/Vista. They have been angry this entire time, too, at an establishment that just doesn't seem to understand the fragility of their empire and how breaking a few laws and destroying a few competitors is simply the price of survival at the top -- the price of American greatness. Microsoft has been bargaining for the past two-three years as it settles its debts to society, pretends to reform, and tries to figure a way out of its current mess. Depression has really hit Redmond in the last year and will continue to grow until well into the eventual period of acceptance, which has not yet begun.

--Mark Stephens
Read the rest in PBS | I, Cringely . May 4, 2006

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Even people who have used compilers and seen the error and warning messages seem to think that text formats can be written casually and the piece of software in the other end will be able to fix small errors like a human reader. This is not the case with XML. If the document is not well-formed, it is not XML and an XML processor has to cease normal processing upon finding a fatal error.

It helps if you think of XML as a binary format like PNG—only with the added bonus that you can use text tools to see what is in the file for debugging.

--Henri Sivonen
Read the rest in HOWTO Avoid Being Called a Bozo When Producing XML

Friday, June 30, 2006

Microsoft today announced the opening of a "test drive" so that people can see what Microsoft Office 2007 might look like when it finally goes on sale.

The OpenOffice.org Community invites potential upgraders to go one better - download the full OpenOffice.org 2 office suite today for a test drive, and if you like it, use it free for as long as you like. It's the ultimate no-strings-attached test drive - if you enjoy the test drive, keep the car!

--John McCreesh on the announce@openoffice.org mailing list, Monday, 26 Jun 2006 23:01:32

Thursday, June 29, 2006
If I had a dollar for every time it turned out that some customer numbers had seven digits instead of six, or that the registrar's office really did allow students to register without a social security number due to privacy concerns and so the column has to be made nullable - well, I'd have a lot of dollars. Database design can't be done in a vacuum, away from the business rules. It's critical that you get the input of the actual users of the data, and hammer on them to find out for sure how big each column needs to be, what rules apply to it, what types of data it will hold, who can update it, and so on. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for costly rework down the line. You'll learn to dread sentences starting with "Well, it looks fine, except..."

--Mike Gunderloy
Read the rest in Ten of the Biggest Mistakes Developers Make With Databases

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
It doesn't matter how cool a Web site looks, if users find it impractical they will head to your competitor's site, which is only a click away.

--Theresa Cunnington, iFocus.
Read the rest in What users hate most about Web sites | InfoWorld | News | 2006-06

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I loved iPhoto until my iPhoto database got corrupted one day, and I lost all my ratings, keywords, and albums because that information is stored in an undocumented binary black hole. Yeah yeah, I know about AlbumData.xml. That has its own problems, and in my case it was already corrupted by the time iPhoto noticed. I’ll give them some credit for trying.

Similarly, I loved iTunes until my iTunes database got corrupted, too. Once again, I lost all my ratings and about two dozen well-thought-out interlocking “smart” playlists. And once again, all of the irreplaceable metadata was stored in an undocumented binary black hole. Yeah yeah, the XML backup again. iTunes even helpfully offered to restore from it… except that it didn’t restore any of my aforementioned metadata, so it’s not really a backup, is it? “A” for effort, “D-” for implementation.

--Mark Pilgrim
Read the rest in When the bough breaks [dive into mark]

Monday, June 26, 2006
Well-informed buyers are able to drive a harder bargain in most cases, but opaque pricing favors sellers.

--Jeff Bailey And Christopher Elliott
Read the rest in A Move to Add Still More Fine Print to Advertised Airfares

Monday, June 19, 2006

specs have an inevitably tendency to try to introduce abstractions levels and wording and documentation policies that make sense for a written spec. Trying to implement actual code off the spec leads to the code looking and working like CRAP.

The classic example of this is the OSI network model protocols. Classic spec-design, which had absolutely _zero_ relevance for the real world. We still talk about the seven layers model, because it's a convenient model for _discussion_, but that has absolutely zero to do with any real-life software engineering. In other words, it's a way to _talk_ about things, not to implement them.

And that's important. Specs are a basis for _talking_about_ things. But they are _not_ a basis for implementing software.

So please don't bother talking about specs. Real standards grow up _despite_ specs, not thanks to them.

--Linus Torvalds
Read the rest in Linux: Linus On Specifications

Saturday, June 17, 2006
Warning: The above link contains barbie doll nudity, if that sort of thing bothers you please don't leave your house.

Read the rest in Allakhazam.com: World of Warcraft: Thread: Lost my character's underpants (really) (Locked)

Friday, June 16, 2006
too many sites interpret full text feeds to mean I’m giving them the right to reprint my content. I’m not. That why I don’t do a full text feed.

--Danny Sullivan
Read the rest in Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger » Blog Herald doesn’t understand why full

Thursday, June 15, 2006
The network can and will disappear. Take advantage of the clean data packet XML provides to queue the request for later execution. Anytime there's no user sitting waiting for the data it's probably a good idea to use this kind of asynchronous architecture.

--Kimbro Staken
Read the rest in Inspirational Technology: 10 things to change in your thinking when building REST XML Protocols

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
XQueryX is a joke. It is as bloated as the concrete syntax tree that guides an XQuery parser. No reasonable programming language with a nonXML syntax would make use of concrete syntax trees (and thus no parser ever really generates them).

--Burak Emir on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 09 Dec 2004

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
When SBC (now AT&T) or BellSouth complain about having to carry Yahoo or Google bits for free, they are just trying to fool us into paying even more than we already are for the same network services they would give us for free if they had to. Sharing the increased value of the larger network is worth more to these companies than the incremental revenue of bleeding Yahoo. Either they don't get this, which is very possible, or they are lying, which is equally possible.

--Mark Stephens
Read the rest in PBS | I, Cringely . February 23, 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006
We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective service. Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense.

--Sergey Brin
Read the rest in BBC NEWS | Asia

Saturday, June 10, 2006
It was only to be expected that Google.com would be gradually sidelined after the censored version was launched in January. Google has just definitively joined the club of Western companies that comply with online censorship in China

--Reporters without Borders
Read the rest in BBC NEWS | Asia

Thursday, June 8, 2006
I knew that Netscape would lose to Microsoft as soon as Andreesen made those comments about XML being MS FUD. You can fight a competitor but not the environment in which you compete.

--Claude L (Len) Bullard on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 8 Jun 2006 10:11:51

Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Trouble is, most things around us were designed by geniuses to be used by idiots; XML was designed by very smart people to be used by themselves.

--Michael Champion on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 27 Oct 2004

Tuesday, June 6, 2006
People used to worry that the web was too ephemeral for preserving important information, so it's worth noting that it was trivially simple for people to pull up a list of people on a couple of committees ten years ago, without having to haul boxes out of our basements and search for old printouts or floppy disks.

--David Megginson on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 5 Jun 2006 13:57:06

Monday, June 5, 2006
Let people put extensions wherever they feel like putting them (they will anyhow), remembering that human-readability is a virtue. If models try to micro-manage the element/attribute thing, those models are broken, don't use them. If software arbitrarily discards markup because the markup doesn't match its idiosyncratic ideas about elements and attributes, that software is non-comformant and non-interoperable.

--Tim Bray on the atom-syntax mailing list, Tuesday, 23 May 2006 14:31:37

Sunday, June 4, 2006
If people are stupid enough to rely upon JS to prevent Bad Things, then they're stupid enough to try to breath methane...or anything else in between.

--Andrew Gideon on the wwwac mailing list, Sunday, Wed, 29 Mar 2006 14:07:02

Saturday, June 3, 2006
My definition of a mainstream language is that Computer Weekly has job ads asking for people with three years' experience. XSLT passes that test with no trouble.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 2 Dec 2004

Friday, June 2, 2006
Yes, there is more "roll your own" to REST, but one needs to be clear about what that entails. A number of our engineers were interested in using SOAP simply because the toolkits offer Object-XML serialization mechanisms. Once I suggested they use Castor, or similar APIs, they've not looked back.

--Leigh Dodds on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 30 Mar 2005 20:33:01

Thursday, June 1, 2006
Authentication in Web applications has been highjacked, HTTP defines a standard way of providing authentication but most apps use the evil spawn of Netscape, otherwise known as cookies. Why is this? Cookies aren't designed for authentication, they're a pain to use for it, insecure unless you know what you're doing, non-standard, and unRESTful.

--Paul James
Read the rest in HTTP Authentication with HTML forms : Paul James

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Maximize flexibility, do not fall into the trap of believing that a fully specified and constrained system will be more robust. It won't be, it will be brittle and prone to constant operational failure in the real world. Accept that the system and the environment where it's going to operate is going to change and build for that eventuality.

--Kimbro Staken
Read the rest in Inspirational Technology: 10 things to change in your thinking when building REST XML Protocols

Monday, May 29, 2006
The community has to discover ways to use things together through trial and error and then codify that experience for the benefit of others -- in my non-statistically-verified experience, the probability that a profile written in advance will be even slightly useful is in the single digits, so I see little point wasting my time reading one. A profile written in advance of serious, real-world experience is about as useful as a stockmarket prediction, a system for winning at slots, or CIA intelligence reports about WMD.

--David Megginson on the XML Developers mailing list, Wednesday, 07 Apr 2004

Sunday, May 28, 2006
As has been noted, the 'universal' nature of HTTP is poorly implemented. People interpreting the 'universal semantics' of HTTP headers deviate from each other. That's bad. It's not so bad at the moment that the web doesn't work. But it might become bad.

--John Elliot on the REST Discuss mailing list, Sunday, 20 Apr 2006 02:28:59

Saturday, May 27, 2006
i could't find it on wikipedia, therefore, it does not exist. q.e.d.

--John Joseph Bachir on the wp-hackers mailing list, Saturday, 22 Apr 2006 15:40:22 -0400

Friday, May 26, 2006
The price for downloaded music is set at a level that includes the cost of making and shipping a compact disc. You can be certain that the money they saved is not going back to the artists.

--Alex Ridouan
Read the rest in France debates downloads, with teen as top expert | CNET News.com

Thursday, May 25, 2006
Many people have already commented that s-expressions are more concise than XML. The standard rebuttal is that with deeply embedded tree structures it is virtually impossible to visually locate the end tag and therefore know which element ends where. Therefore, for trivial examples s-expressions are more readable, whereas for more complex examples XML is much more readable.

--Chris Burdess on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 9 May 2006 12:00:55

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
REST seeks to guide application designers to design more scalable applications by helping them understand the architecture that underlies the HTTP protocol. HTTP is just a protocol. It can be used in all sorts of ways and that is a good thing. But not every way of using HTTP will be scalable and maintainable. REST seeks to provide a structure where HTTP will be scalable and maintainable.

--Nic Ferrier on the REST Discuss mailing list, Sunday, 20 Apr 2006 10:32:13

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
anyone who ignores Unicode limits their participation in the evolving internet and computing more generally.

--Donald Z. Osborn on the unicode mailing list, Tuesday, 16 May 2006 10:42:31

Sunday, May 21, 2006
any client application that expects to get XML input should handle the XML by putting it through an XML parser. Otherwise you've got an application that can handle some subsets of XML and not others, and the whole point of XML is to prevent that kind of problem.

--Michael Kay on the xsl-list mailing list, Sunday, 14 May 2006 20:16:19

Saturday, May 20, 2006

OPML's also the only XML dialect I'm aware of that stuffs all character data inside attributes. Now that OPML's being turned into a weblog publishing format, outline items will have ginormous attribute values holding escaped HTML markup like this:

<outline text="&lt;img src="http://images.scripting.com/archiveScriptingCom/2006/03/16/chockfull.jpg" width="53" height="73" border="0" align="right" hspace="15" vspace="5" alt="A picture named chockfull.jpg"&gt;&lt;a href="http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/03/16/the-new-a-list/"&gt;Scoble laments&lt;/a&gt; all the flamers in the thread on &lt;b style="color:black;background-color:#ffff66"&gt;Rogers Cadenhead's&lt;/b&gt; site, but isn't it obvious that the &lt;i&gt;purpose&lt;/i&gt; of his post was to get a flamewar going? What non-flamer is going to post in the middle of a festival like that one? I'm not as worried about it as Scoble is, because I've seen better flamewars and I know how they turn out. In a few days he's still going to have to try to resolve the matter with me, and the flamers will have gone on to some other trumped-up controversy. The days when you could fool any number of real people with a charade like this are long past. And people who use pseudonyms to call public figures schoolyard names are not really very serious or threatening. &lt;a href="http://allied.blogspot.com/2006/03/lynch-mob-security.html"&gt;Jeneane Sessum&lt;/a&gt; is right in saying it's extreme to call this a lynch mob. It's just a bunch of &lt;a href="http://www.cadenhead.org/workbench/news/2881/letter-dave-winers-attorney#46458"&gt;anonymous comments&lt;/a&gt; on a snarky blog post. Big deal. Not.&nbsp;&lt;a href="http://www.scripting.com/2006/03/16.html#When:11:21:10PM"&gt;" created="Tue, 16 March 2006 11:21:10 GMT"/>

I'd be amazed if XML parsers can handle attribute values of any length, but that's what's being done today with OPML.

--Rogers Cadenhead
Read the rest in Workbench: Settlement Reached with Dave Winer

Thursday, May 18, 2006
Companies champion technologies because they can be sold as products and consulting services. Go to any tradeshow and you'll see plenty of booths pushing various fancy technologies -- most of which will make very little difference to your bottom line. But each of these technologies has smooth-talking salespeople who will invite your executives out for a round of golf. In contrast, no trade show booth features Photographers' Society representatives saying "clear photos move more products," even though it's the truth. Nor does the Writers' Guild cold-call Internet managers to sell them on the value of bulleted lists.

--Jakob Nielsen
Read the rest in Growing a Business Website: Fix the Basics First (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
xsl:apply-templates is much richer and deeper than xsl:for-each, even simply because we don't know what code will be applied on the nodes of the selection -- in the general case this code will be different for different nodes of the node-list. Also, the code that will be applied can be written way after the xsl:apply templates was written and by people that do not know the original author.

--Dimtre Novatchev on the xsl-list mailing list, Thu, 11 Nov 2004

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The security company Scanit recently conducted a survey which tracked three web browsers (MSIE, Firefox, Opera) in 2004 and counted which days they were "known unsafe." Their definition of "known unsafe": a remotely exploitable security vulnerability had been publicly announced and no patch was yet available. Microsoft Internet Explorer, which is the most popular browser in use today and installed by default on most Windows-based computers, was 98% unsafe. Astonishingly, there were only 7 days in 2004 without an unpatched publicly disclosed security hole. Read that last sentence again if you have to.

--Noam Eppel, Vivica Information Security Inc.
Read the rest in Security Absurdity.com > Security Absurdity; The Complete, Unquestionable, And Total Failure of Information Security.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

XML provides a natural representation for hierarchical structures and repeating fields or structures. Further, XML document type definitions (DTDs) and schemas allow fine-grained control over how much variation to allow in the data: Vocabulary designers can require XML data to be perfectly regular, or they can allow a little variation, or a lot. In the extreme case, an XML vocabulary can effectively say that there are no rules at all beyond those required of all well-formed XML. Because XML syntax records only what is present, not everything that might be present, sparse data does not make the XML representation awkward; XML storage systems are typically built to handle sparse data gracefully.

The most important contribution XML makes to the problem of semi-structured data, however, is to call into question the nature and existence of the problem. As the description makes clear, semi-structured data is just data that does not fit neatly into the relational model. Referring to “the problem of semi-structured data” suggests subliminally that the problem lies in the failure of the data to live up fully to the relational model, rather than in the model and its failure fully to support the natural structure of the data.

In the wild (that is, in documents, reports, and program data structures as they are encountered in daily life), information takes forms rather different from third normal form. XML arose from efforts to represent documents in a device- and application-independent way, and it reflects the complexity of documents and their stubborn refusal to fit into tabular form.

--C. M. Sperberg-Mcqueen
Read the rest in ACM Queue - XML and Semi-Structured Data - What role can XML play in solving the semi

Friday, May 12, 2006
XML and markup in general are the admission that if semantics can't be shared, the parse space can be and that any inefficiencies in that space are overcome by the scale of applying it to other spaces. It is the minimal contract.

--Claude L (Len) Bullard on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 10 May 2006 11:13:14

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The reason RSS advertising doesn’t work today is:

1) The audiences are too small.
2) The audiences are too geeky and too full of smart people. Hint, those people don’t click on advertisements unless they are very targetted!

--Robert Scoble
Read the rest in Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger » Blog Herald doesn’t understand why full

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
While I believe in this philosophy of opaque URLs when software deals with URLs, for better or for worse, it is not the case with users. The URL is a part of the user interface, and therefore it is an opportunity to communicate with the user about the information architecture of your site. When designed with the user in mind, URLs can help users figure out where they are in the structure of your site.

--Bill Venners
Read the rest in RESTful and User

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

I haven't trusted an email client for some time. Hence I regularly export my contacts (address book etc) list to XML.

At least that way I can update from a reliable source.

--Dave Pawson on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 12 Dec 2005 17:56:24

Monday, May 8, 2006

Website designers stare at their designs all day, every day. In contrast, users visit for four minutes and then leave. Very different experiences in terms of what's boring and exciting. Don't aim at an exceptional experience for yourself and your team members.

Our testing of the usability of Flash designs clearly demonstrated the fallacy of the mystery ideology. Almost every time a design employed a non-standard scrollbar, users failed. Our test users typically overlooked numerous options because they didn't realize that the highly decorated or otherwise unusual scrollbars actually served a function.

Users don't want to admire the scrollbars. Truth be told, they don't even want scrollbars as such, they just want to access content and have the interface get out of the way.

--Jakob Nielsen
Read the rest in Mastery, Mystery, and Misery: The Ideologies of Web Design (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Friday, May 5, 2006
if I may make one point that highly influenced the end-game when we were finishing up XML 1.0 in 1998: if you leave something out, you can always put it in later. The reverse is not true.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in Re: Comments on April XQuery drafts (long, sorry)

Thursday, May 4, 2006
IE7 could have been a contender. It's not. It's a nice little browser, continuing to promote the misguided Microsoft mantra that believes that once Avalon et alia REALLY get shown that people will abandon the web for Microsoft's far prettier, more colorful version of the web. For Microsoft, IE7b2 is like being a batter in the bottom of the ninth inning, two guys out and one guy on. They needed a home run. Instead they got a bloop single. They could still score a home run, still take away the game by pushing beyond nice and into stellar (and secure and conformant) - but they've only got one more chance to get it right ...

--Kurt Cagle,
Read the rest in I(E7) coulda been a contender ...

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

I'll certainly agree that streaming parsers are more difficult to work with. It's much more convenient if you can access the data in arbitrary order. Having to process it in precisely the order it appears in the file, and not being able to go back to look at data you've already passed, significantly restricts how you can process it.

On the other hand, you sometimes have no choice about this. If you need to process very large files, loading the entire data set into memory at once simply isn't an option.

--Peter Eastman on the java-dev mailing list, Monday, 3 Apr 2006 16:35:04 -0700

Tuesday, May 2, 2006
This is one of those issues which that which I use to blame on the complexity of XSD but have adjusted to also blaming vendors of XML Web services toolkits as well. The core problem is that every vendor of XML Web Services toolkits pretends they are selling a toolkit for programming with distributed objects and tries their best to make their tool hide the XML-ness of the wire protocols (SOAP), interface description language (WSDL) and data types (XSD). Of course, these toolkits are all leaky abstractions made even leakier than usual by the impedance mismatch between XSD and the typical statically typed, object oriented programming language that is popular with the enterprise Web services crowd (i.e. Java or C#).

--Dare Obasanjo
Read the rest in The Misguided Efforts of the W3C's XML Schema Patterns for Databinding Working Group

Monday, May 1, 2006
Don't use string operations to manipulate XML. Use XML APIs. They're namespace-aware and will Do The Right Things.

--Joseph Kesselman on the j-users mailing list, Sunday, 27 Apr 2006 11:35:19

Saturday, April 29, 2006
How this new browser measures up depends on the ruler you're using. If you've never used anything but Internet Explorer, you won't be able to wipe the grin off your face. But next to rivals like Firefox, Opera and Safari, IE 7 is a catch-up and patch-up job. Some of its "new" features have been available in rival browsers for years.

--David Pogue
Read the rest in New Tricks of a Browser Look Familiar

Friday, April 28, 2006
the really great thing about the WS space is that it is *really* easy to put together a working group and get your very own personal WS-* specification written and announced as a standard. The traditional standards forums (ISO, IETF, etc.) are much more difficult to work through and result in much greater sharing of the credit than is typical of the groups that get WS-* stuff written up. The other thing that is nice about WS-* stuff is that since there aren't many working examples of the stuff, it is really easy to present one's self as an "expert" without having to deal with the embarrasment of failed or competitive implementations. (If a standard is never deployed, noone can *really* say if it is any good...) All of these factors and others tend to produce an environment which is very attractive to individuals and companies who seek to feel like they are leaders on the bleeding edge. There are few areas in our business today that can offer so much personal reward and so much press coverage in return for so little useful output.

--Bob Wyman on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 2 Apr 2004

Thursday, April 27, 2006
Sometimes, especially when I am at standards meetings, it reminds me of the book "Lord of the Flies". A bunch of adolescents with no adult supervision. The people who get to be the most powerful are politically adept, and vicious, rather than technically good. Women are tolerated if they are wide-eyes worshipers of the inner circle.

--Radia Perlman
Read the rest in Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Microsoft benefits from piracy, then says, "If you think prices are high, blame the Chinese, because they are the thieves." They like us to feel guilty — to think that piracy is wrong and immoral. Economically, it's not necessarily true, but it resonates with the public.

--Ariel Katz, University of Toronto
Read the rest in How Piracy Opens Doors for Windows

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
a smart business does treat a shopping cart as a resource. It makes it easy for the customer to come back and convert the shopping cart resource into the "dollars" resource.

--Jeoff Wilks on the rest-discuss mailing list, Sunday, 20 Apr 2006 22:14:31

Monday, April 24, 2006
Now when I talk with audiences I see two trends: 1) Blog-heavy audiences, like the Northern Voice conference, have about 80% usage of RSS News Aggregators (these audiences do NOT represent the mainstream user). 2) Blog-lite audiences, like Ireland’s IT@Cork conference, only see about 2% RSS usage (these are far more mainstream — in fact, I’d argue that the mainstream user is far less likely to use RSS than that. Heck, if you really want to get mainstream, only about 1/6th of the world’s population even uses a computer)

--Robert Scoble
Read the rest in Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger » Blog Herald doesn’t understand why full

Sunday, April 23, 2006
XML-Dev is becoming home to the best amateur chaos/complexity theorists on the web. And that is not surprising considering the problem markup set out to solve.

--Claude L (Len) Bullard, on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 5 Jan 2005 16:19:19 -0600

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Don't time-out shopping carts. When users return, anything they had previously added to their carts should still be there. Same for any build-your-own configurators and user-created wish lists. If a customer indicates an interest in your products, don't throw away their work just because they haven't bought anything for a few weeks.

--Jakob Nielsen
Read the rest in The Slow Tail: Time Lag Between Visiting and Buying (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Friday, April 21, 2006

If you bring an application to market and wave the XML banner, what that means to me is that you're willing to accept input in XML, and you'll give me back information in XML, without stealing any of it. What you do inside your own application is none of my concern. All I care about is: Does it produce the business value I want?

At my company, we take in XML, and we provide XML output. But inside, there's no XML at all; it's all highly proprietary data structures. That's where the real strength of XML is--at the periphery, at the interchange.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in Taking XML's measure |CNET.com

Thursday, April 20, 2006
today's developers want everything to be objects. The list of useful entities that are not objects is quite long - XML, relational tables and records, higher-order functions, patterns, messages, etc. - but developers will have none of these unless they can see them through OOP-colored glasses, no matter how horribly awkward or inefficient the translation.

--Bob Foster on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 25 Aug 2005 10:06:05

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Copy protection is not about stamping out piracy. Sure, it will cut down on piracy—at least the casual file-trading that goes on. But at its heart, its about finding new ways to monetize the content. And by "monetize the content," I mean "charge you multiple times for the same thing." Remember that as the analog hole and future broadcast flag legislation makes its way through Congressional committees, and be sure to let the FCC, your senators, and your congressperson know how you feel about HBO's proposed changes.

--Eric Bangeman
Read the rest in HBO wants its programming to be off

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My experience in the early-mid 90s teaches me that part of the purpose of setting the production standards of early CD-ROMs absurdly high was to promote corporate authorship over individual authorship with the idea that digital products could be authored like film and TV, not like books, thus empowering the executive level and disempowering the actual creators, or rather reconfiguring relations such that executives become part of the creative "team."

Now computers are being sold that allow individuals, and small groups of individuals, to produce works to very high production standards on very low budgets. This also threatens the rise of corporate authorship. So watermark-style DRM may do very little to prevent the "piracy" about which the big media corporations are up in arms, it may be the killer app of corporate authorship.

--Kathryn Cramer
Read the rest in Kathryn Cramer: Watermarking as a Strategy for Insisting on Corporate "Creators": Is DRM the Killer App for Corporate Authorship?

Monday, April 17, 2006
The CORBA and DCOM generation of distributed computing systems was as ambitious as Web services is today, yet they spent a decade in development before achieving only a modest proportion of these ambitions. Certainly, we have that experience to build on, but it’s hard to see how Web services will magically break through just because messages will now be exchanged in verbose XML documents rather than in compact binary forms.

--Uche Ogbuji
Read the rest in What’s in the name “Web service”?- ADTmag.com

Sunday, April 16, 2006
According to the XML spec, “an XML processor MAY, but need not, make it possible for an application to retrieve the text of comments”. Since the receiving application is not guaranteed to see the comments, comments are not an appropriate place for data that you want to the recipient to process. That a particular DTD does not allow embedded RDF metadata does not make comments an appropriate place for metadata.

--Henri Sivonen
Read the rest in HOWTO Avoid Being Called a Bozo When Producing XML

Saturday, April 15, 2006
The industry is still getting a handle on what this metadata stuff is all about and what it is supposed to do, anyway. The definitions we tend to have for it are too wide to nail down into anything useful, and anything practially useful is not general enough to really satisfy.

--Benjamin Carlyle on the rest-discuss mailing list, Wednesday, 12 Apr 2006 23:36:13

Friday, April 14, 2006
So, while I've got DSL for two years now (after only a 4 year waiting period from my installation request), as I've mentioned here, I live adjacent to a CO that can't even provision 56K Modems due to pair-gain switching schemes. (610-982-XXXX if you care). Connected to that CO are many of the firefighter guys, all of whom have been relatively content to deal with 24K dialup all this time. However, in the last two months, I've gotten phone calls from them asking me how they can get DSL. (Short answer: they can't). The reaction is as if I told them they can't buy guns and beer. It's just delightful to see them get all flustered, angry and insistent that I must be wrong. And then they ask if they can come over to borrow my office.

--Martin T. Focazio on the wwwac mailing list, Sunday, 12 Jan 2006 10:38:54

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Recall that mixed content is identified with #PCDATA. Without consulting 8879, let me attempt to paraphrase. What does PCDATA stand for? "Parseable Character Data". And what is CDATA, "Character Data" that isn't parseable. The fact that it's locked inside the <![CDATA[ section means that normally active characters (like & and <) are not active.

--Norman Walsh on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, Feb 8, 2005 14:28:09

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. And as long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.

--Bill Gates
Read the rest in How Piracy Opens Doors for Windows

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Those who belong to subscription services such as Napster or Rhapsody have it worse. Music rented from these services arrive in the WMA DRM 10 format, and it takes extra processing power to ensure that the licenses making the tracks work are still valid and match up to the device itself. Heavy DRM not only slows down an MP3 player but also sucks the very life out of them. Take, for instance, the critically acclaimed Creative Zen Vision:M, with a rated battery life of up to 14 hours for audio and 4 hours for video. CNET tested it at nearly 16 hours, with MP3s--impressive indeed. Upon playing back only WMA subscription tracks, the Vision:M scored at just more than 12 hours. That's a loss of almost 4 hours, and you haven't even turned the backlight on yet.

--James Kim
Read the rest in MP3 Insider: The truth about battery life

Monday, April 10, 2006

In XML, data can have an elaborate and intricate structure that is significantly richer and more complex than a table of rows and columns. Calling this semi-structured is misleading, just as it would be to describe DNA molecules as semi-structured because they are less simply regular than those of table salt. XML seeks to make possible capturing and expressing the structure of the data as we understand it, without forcing it into a too-simple structure.

Defining what counts as a valid document requires a definition language richer than that provided by relational systems. In a typical technical manual, lists and paragraphs may appear at the same level, but some documentation departments require that at least two paragraphs must appear between any two lists. This is easy to define using regular expressions or similar tools from formal language theory; it is not straightforward to define using mechanisms such as those of SQL schemas.

--C. M. Sperberg-Mcqueen
Read the rest in ACM Queue - XML and Semi-Structured Data - What role can XML play in solving the semi

Sunday, April 9, 2006
The incompatibilities between "XPath 2.0 in 1.0 mode" and "XPath 1.0" are now tiny. One is that the construct "A<B<C" is no longer supported (in 1.0, it doesn't mean what you think it means), another is that number("1.0e0") now gives you the number 1 rather than NaN.

--Michael Kay on the xom-interest mailing list, Friday, 7 Jan 2005 10:52:05

Saturday, April 8, 2006

I think there is a basic operational problem in XML Schemas: it is designed with a kind of "dynamic discovery" model. So when you find the root element, you start looking for the schema that matches that namespace, if there is @xsi:type you don't look at the element name you look at the type name, and you look up the type names when you need them and don't signal an error if they are found and not needed, and type attribution is performed in the context of the current namespace-branch: top-down.

This notional processing model is very consistent, but schema-compiling or schema-using toolkits prefer/require that the schema is known, fixed, closed (i.e. no wildcards) and complete.

--Rick Jelliffe on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 02 May 2005 20:28:20

Friday, April 7, 2006
Teachers teach the kids? Give me a break. Give any kid an electronic game and the first thing they do is throw away the manual and the second thing they do is use it.

--Nicholas Negroponte
Read the rest in Negroponte: Slimmer Linux needed for $100 laptop | CNET News.com

Thursday, April 6, 2006
I've been working a lot lately with mixed XML/Javascript frameworks, and curiously enough, the more complex the applications become, the more that they in fact begin to resemble ... well, XForms. You have one or more XML data stores that can represent anything from a personal schema to a description for an entire set. You have a series of bindings that determine the boundaries and secondary processing of data between components, you have event notifiers that get passed from object to object in a subscription oriented framework. All of these facets, and more, are critical pieces of the XForms space.

--Kurt Cagle
Read the rest in Why XForms Matter, Revisited

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

A similar problem occurs when people distribute files in Word format. And peoples' approach to this used to be find some way to arrange to read it. And I pointed out that this is actually not a right response in the long run. You see, people worked on figuring out the details of the secret of Word format. And figured out a lot of them. So there is free software today like OpenOffice that can read Word files. But it is still short term thinking just to address this problem as right because Microsoft can keep changing the Word format. And every time they make Word files in this new format and they send to other people and other people can't read them. And so they feel like have to upgrade word as well and the result is a large number of these Windows users are using new version of Word and they send us these Word files in a different format which our software can't read. And maybe it is patented and we will get sued if we make our free software read.

To solve this office problem, we have to remove Microsoft's control over the language that people use to communicate with each other and with themselves - like saving your files so you could read your files later. We have to refuse to use word format for this. When people send you a Word file, therefore don't cope with the situation by reading it. Instead it is much better to send back a message saying - please don't ever send me Word files. This is contributing to a serious social problem. But send it in public documented formats which everyone is free to implement so you are not giving a particular company any power it shouldn't have.

--Richard M. Stallman
Read the rest in All about Linux: The unabridged selective transcript of Richard M Stallman's talk at the ANU

Tuesday, April 4, 2006
Not many developers seem to like XML much, and fewer still seem to understand how to use it without shooting yourself in the foot from a portability and extensibility point of view (automagically generating data binding classes is one example). As a result, I think not as many people can really leverage the flexibility offered by XML if you use it in a more dynamic manner.

--Andrew S. Townley on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 31 Mar 2006 08:55:53

Monday, April 3, 2006
Customers need to be given control of their own data - not being tied into a certain manufacturer so that when there are problems they are always obliged to go back to them. IT professionals have a responsibility to understand the use of standards and the importance of making Web applications that work with any kind of device. They need to take the view that data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.

--Tim Berners-Lee
Read the rest in Isn't it semantic? : Articles : Internet : BCS

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Currently there are many XSL-FO processors, but few of them have completely implemented the standard. There are at least three reasons for this:

  • The XSL-FO standard was finalized almost two years after the XSLT standard.

  • The XSL-FO standard is big and complicated.

  • Typesetting is hard.

--Bob Stayton
Read the rest in XSL-FO Processors

Friday, March 31, 2006
in general looking up namespace uris for anything is evil evil evil, however if you must do it (and sometimes it does seem an attractive idea) I strongly suggest that you put a rddl document at the namespace uri an use that to cross reference to your application data. That costs you something in following the indirection but you gain a lot in not forever blocking other uses of the namespace URI by having your application data sat there.

--David Carlisle on the xsl-list mailing list, Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 10:37:15

Thursday, March 30, 2006
I remember Dan Connolly - who really understood SGML - asking me if HTML was SGML. I really wanted the SGML people on board so I said yes. I should have said no - and we would have developed XML a lot sooner. A seminal discussion about changing SGML to XML actually happened during a hypertext conference, in a pub in Edinburgh. This May there'll be discussions in pubs in Edinburgh again, where we can talk about what we'll need to change now - it'll be a blast.

--Tim Berners-Lee
Read the rest in Isn't it semantic? : Articles : Internet : BCS

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Even in the simplest cases, though, I have a really hard time finding benefits to XLink that aren't outweighed by the costs of using it.

--Simon St.Laurent on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 23 Jan 2004

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
When I started using Ruby on Rails professionally a few months ago I hoped that Rails was first of a new breed of web application frameworks. After working with it for several months I have reached conclusion that it is not the paradigm shifting framework I had hoped for. Rather, it is just an incremental, though significant, improvement to the existing paradigm of web application frameworks. It is significantly1 less effort to implement a web application in Rails than in any other framework in which I have worked but it is not better than those other frameworks, just easier.

--Peter Williams
Read the rest in Peter Williams’ Weblog » Rough RESTing on Rails

Monday, March 27, 2006
The DRM issue is largely imposed by content providers, and is only growing. This year or next could be the year consumers pushed back on not being able to listen to or watch content on their system of choice. I speculate that one vector for this will be, of all things, UMDs for the Playstation Portable. In Ireland a UMD retails for about 30 euro, whereas the equivalent DVD could be got for as little as 10 euro. Assuming you upgrade the memory stick to 512Mb or 1Gb you can burn DVDs for playback on the PSP. But the legal and technical status around DVD burning is extrememly vague. Ripping DVDs is also more effort than most people want to go through. However, tell Joe Consumer after shelling out for a PSP that they have to buy Pirates Of The Carribean twice for the kids, once for a relatively portable medium (DVD) and once again for a non-portable format (UMD) which can cost up to 3 times as much, and I predict a riot. I'm also seeing an interesting pattern of people just not buying media of late, either because they don't know what they can do with a DVD/CD, what the limitations across devices are, or don't know what malware or junk the discs are spraying onto their PCs. The back catalog is big enough. In trying to maintain the value and stranglehold over current physical distribution channels, the entertainment industry seems to be creating real problems for itself. Finally, you can't help but wonder if in the next few years war by proxy will be fought in the home between content electronics and software companies with DRM as the weapon of choice.

--Bill de hÓra,
Read the rest in The Big Bopper

Friday, March 24, 2006

A final reason why attention flows to things that matter little to mainstream business websites: the Web's chattering classes tend to be overly engaged in the "Internet elite experience." They actually care about the 'Net for its own sake, and go gaga over new ways of showing maps. In contrast, average users just want to complete tasks online. They don't particularly like the Web, and they'd like to get back to their jobs or families as quickly as possible.

Wall Street experiencing Web Bubble 2.0 is one thing. But I'm concerned that Internet professionals are getting a dangerous sniff of bubble vapors as well, deluding themselves into thinking that their preferences and interests represent those of normal customers.

One of usability's most hard-earned lessons is that "you are not the user." If you work on a development project, you're atypical by definition. Design to optimize the user experience for outsiders, not insiders. The antidote to bubble vapor is user testing: find out what representative users need. Delivering the basics that customers value is the way to build business value as well.

--Jakob Nielsen
Read the rest in Growing a Business Website: Fix the Basics First (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Thursday, March 23, 2006
The funny thing about a lot of the people who claim to be 'Enterprise Architects' is that I've come to realize that they tend to seek complex solutions to relatively simple problems. How else do you explain the fact that web sites that serve millions of people a day and do billions of dollars in business a year like Amazon and Yahoo are using scripting languages like PHP and approaches based on REST to solve the problem of building distributed applications while you see these 'enterprise architect' telling us that you need complex WS-* technologies and expensive toolkits to build distributed applications for your business which has less issues to deal with than the Amazons and Yahoos of this world?

--Dare Obasanjo
Read the rest in Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I almost stopped when the IE install required that I confirm that I was running a legitimate copy of Windows XP, then, because I was running Firefox it ended up launching an HTA in order to load the requisite ActiveX control that checked my system. HTAs are web pages that run within the local security context, meaning that they can essentially go into your system and do anything. HTAs make me very nervous, precisely because they DO represent such a large potential security hole.

This feeling of invasiveness was only highlighted when IE required that I reboot my system in order to launch properly. Why does this bother me? Simple. You can run Firefox without needing to change the state of the underlying OS. You can run Opera without needing to change the state of the underlying OS. You run IE, and all of a sudden you're back into the bad old days when a browser, an application, still ended up rewriting critical portions of Windows in order to run properly. Does this mean that I'm reintroducing instability into an environment that I've finally managed to stabilize enough to be manageable? You betcha. Am I happy about it? Not even remotely. Get a clue, guys, people don't WANT super browsers that stick their tentacles deep into the operating system. Wasn't this what .NET was supposed to give us?

--Kurt Cagle,
Read the rest in I(E7) coulda been a contender ...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Something is wrong if competition in any product line continually focuses on security and stability. These design attributes are basic requirements, not advanced features. You won't see advertisements for toaster ovens that say "Now, it explodes less often!"

--Scott Berkun
Read the rest in How to build a better browser

Monday, March 20, 2006

It needs to be said over and over that in the early '90s, corporations did not own or control most of these digital rights they now claim the right to defend. In large part, these rights were taken, without additional compensation, from the artistic creators. (I know who the real pirates are!)

Transitioning from a world where art is created by individuals to a world where it is "created" by corporate "creative teams" is the second part of an overall stratgey to consolidate corporate control over the revenue that can be extracted from the popular arts; for creating a future in which consumers remain consumers and don't try to horn in on the revenue due to producers of artistic commodities.

--Kathryn Cramer
Read the rest in Kathryn Cramer: Watermarking as a Strategy for Insisting on Corporate "Creators": Is DRM the Killer App for Corporate Authorship?

Monday, March 20, 2006
Something is wrong if competition in any product line continually focuses on security and stability. These design attributes are basic requirements, not advanced features. You won't see advertisements for toaster ovens that say "Now, it explodes less often!"

--Scott Berkun
Read the rest in How to build a better browser

Sunday, March 19, 2006
I think most of us can see that doing transformation on the client makes sense in principle. But the problem is that you have much more control over the server than you have over the client. As soon as you do things on the client you have to cope with a bewildering variety of versions and variants, and this is a nightmare for quality assurance and potentially for support costs. Also, it means you have to put up with using highest-common-factor technology: you can't use technologies like XSLT 2.0 until five years after they emerge, despite the huge productivity gains they bring. (XForms and SVG suffer from the same issues.)

--Didier PH Martin on the xsl-list mailing list, Saturday, 04 Mar 2006 18:22:33

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Why is it that every time the media starts to talk about the internet they feel compelled to bang on about paedophiles and terrorists and generally come over like a cross between Joe McCarthy and the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Well here's one answer - it sells copy. Another answer is that we're totally scared of new media, because new media is railways and we're canals, and you all just know how that's going to end.

So we seek to equate the internet with all bad things to scare you off it. At some corporate freudian level, there's some truth to that accusation.

--Adam Livingstone, BBC
Read the rest in BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | A bit of BitTorrent bother

Friday, March 10, 2006
I do not believe that a blog has to have comments to be a "real blog", no matter what people say. The whole point of blogging is that one gets a space to say things the way they are, personally and in the same "voice" as anything said privately, in a place that has a unique and permanent URL so it can be referenced. The right way to comment on a blog at any length other than the passing comment is to write it on your own blog and link.

--Simon Phipps,
Read the rest in Comment Symmetry

Thursday, March 9, 2006
How can you bet your business on proprietary software? If a company is bought, goes bankrupt or merges or decides to delete a product line you have no choice but to go with whatever product or path they desire. How can you plan when the company keeps changing its licensing terms, and you have no real alternatives? What do you do when the company that makes your software puts its own profits and its values ahead of yours, the customer? When the software company holds back on releasing the latest bug fix so it fits its "release schedule?" When you can't get that one little feature added that would allow you to streamline your business, save a lot of money and beat your competition to market? What happens if that company (no matter where it is) is embargoed?

--Jon Maddog Hall
Read the rest in Computerworld | Jon Maddog Hall on Linux, saving money and ruling the world

Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Databases have a tendency to take over all data storage for an application. I've seen applications that tried to build an entire metadata-driven user interface, and then stored that metadata along with user preferences in the same database that was holding the business data. This is a good way to complicate your life and kill performance; some data really does belong in local files, not in a client-server database across the network. When you're storing data, you need to evaluate the different places you can put it (database, registry, plain text files, XML files...) and pick the appropriate spot for each piece of data. Don't just automatically shove it into a database just because you have a connection string handy. These days, there's probably more of a tendency to overuse XML files than relational databases, but the principle still holds.

--Mike Gunderloy
Read the rest in Ten of the Biggest Mistakes Developers Make With Databases

Tuesday, March 7, 2006
SOAP envelopes begin life as synthetic infosets. Due to the lack of availability of XML Schema support for XML 1.1 and the reliance of SOAP on a normative schema for its envelope, SOAP envelopes are for the moment restricted to Infosets that have only XML 1.0 constructs. Accordingly, there is never a case where one has a SOAP envelope that fails to serialize merely because the media type is limited to XML 1.0; the content being serialized is already restricted to work with XML 1.0.

--Noah Mendelsohn on the www-tag mailing list, Thu, 11 Nov 2004

Monday, March 6, 2006
the hardest thing to understand about REST isn't the semantics of the operations per se, but how exactly to define what the resource is so that the operations make sense. If you do it right (arguably), the semantics of the operations are established by the HTTP specification. Then it's up to you to take your complex application and figure out where and how to slice it up into resources. Based on observation, I think this is where most people tend to get it a bit wrong or otherwise go astray. In my own case, I initially couldn't figure what kind of "resource" made sense for what the object actually was. However, after thinking about for a while, I realized that the resource I needed was something new, related to but different from what was already there.

--Andrew S. Townley on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 23 Feb 2006 23:20:51

Sunday, March 5, 2006
Do not think in terms of programming languages, XML is a data format. It is NOT a serialization of programming language structures so don't treat it as such. In REST based systems you're moving and manipulating data, you're not making method calls against a remote object. The fact programming languages are involved at all is a necessary evil. The data is what matters, programming languages are just tools to help work with that data.

--Kimbro Staken
Read the rest in Inspirational Technology: 10 things to change in your thinking when building REST XML Protocols

Saturday, March 4, 2006
The XML 1.0 specification requires all XML processors to support the UTF-8 and UTF-16 encodings. XML processors may support other encodings, but they are not required to. It follows that using any encoding other than UTF-8 or UTF-16 is unsafe, because the XML processor used by the recipient might not support the encoding. If you use an encoding other than UTF-8 or UTF-16 and communication fails, it is your fault. Arguments about particular legacy encodings being common in a particular locale (eg. Shift_JIS in Japan or ISO-8859-1 in Western Europe) are totally irrelevant here. (The xml:lang attribute can be used for CJK disambiguation. There is no need to use parochial encodings for that.)

--Henri Sivonen
Read the rest in HOWTO Avoid Being Called a Bozo When Producing XML

Friday, March 3, 2006

Hey, you! Yeah, you! XML editing tool vendor! Lemme ask you something, why is it that you think you can fuck with the white space in my mixed content? White space in mixed content is significant. If I put it there, leave it alone! If I didn't put it there, keep your “helpful” fingers out of it!

--Norman Walsh,
Read the rest in White space

Thursday, March 2, 2006
a label for a type is potentially much more dynamic and interesting than a bondage-and-discipline type specification. Removing the ability to apply different schemata to the same document is *reduction* in capability, and one that can hurt.

--Amelia A Lewis on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 13 Oct 2005 11:55:48

Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Decomposing relational queries to address multiple relational data sources is by now a well-understood problem, but it only works if each data source can be modelled in terms of a relational view. If the actual data is the archive of an email mailing list, modelling it as a collection of XML documents is probably going to be much easier. I see no reason why the same query decomposition techniques shouldn't work with XQuery as with SQL, but the technique will be far more powerful simply because XML is a richer model.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 15 Dec 2004

Tuesday, February 28, 2006
A good API should stay out of people's way, and SAX was always meant to be low-level. I had assumed that most developers would use fancy toolkits on top, like the original SAXON, which provided friendlier events, element stacks, etc.; instead, almost everyone went straight to the basic API. XML developers always seem to like to stay close to the metal.

--David Megginson on the xml-dev mailing list, Saturday, 1 Jan 2005

Monday, February 27, 2006
Suppose you think of your data as a list of, well, anything: stock prices or workflow steps or cake ingredients or sports statistics. Atom might be for you. Suppose the things in the list ought to have human-readable labels and have to carry a timestamp and might be re-aggregated into other lists. Atom is almost certainly what you need. And for a data format that didn’t exist a year ago, there’s a whole great big butt-load of software that understands it.

--Tim Bray,
Read the rest in Don’t Invent XML Languages

Friday, February 24, 2006
I fully understand the way in which XML as a ubiquitous format is more than extremely valuable, and consequently highly valued. But on the other hand it only flies for a constrained, localized, and qualified definition of ubiquity. To make a deliberately exagerated (and unfair) comparison, some people see XML as ubiquitous and won't hear of anything else in the same way that some people see Win32 as ubiquitous and don't see the point in targeting other platforms. The point is, who's ubiquity are you talking about?

--Robin Berjon on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 26 Nov 2004

Thursday, February 23, 2006
If given a choice, folks prefer Atom 1.0 over RSS 2.0.

--M. David Peterson,
Read the rest in Week of 1/1 : atom.xml = 3,134; index.xml = 2,318

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
msxml2 implemented a language that had a passing resemblance to the transformation language in the XSL draft of December '98. Even if it had been a faithful implementation of that draft, releasing an implementation of a draft spec in a full non-beta release of a piece of software distributed to 90% of the world's desktops was a mistake, although at the time I think many of us thought it was probably a good thing, spreading the word... It's easier to take a different view with hindsight.

--David Carlisle on the xsl-list mailing list, Wednesday, 9 Mar 2005 00:58:02

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I like W3C XML Schema, but I do so by ignoring all the krusty bits that are full of pits with pointy sticks.

--Alex Milowski on the Atom-Protocol Protocol atom-protocol mailing list, Monday, 13 Feb 2006 07:39:09

Monday, February 20, 2006
Has XSLT taken the world by storm? My sense is that it is a bit like Perl -- there is a community of ubergeeks who know it well, and the ordinary mortals depend on them for help when called upon to do something at all challenging. One early hope for XQuery was that it could handle most of the work that people did with XSLT *and* ordinary mortals who understand SQL, scripting languages, etc. could become facile with it. I see very little sign of that actually happening.

--Michael Champion on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 12 Dec 2004

Friday, February 17, 2006

Congratulations for getting XHTML Modularization 1.1 to PR so quickly. Building upon the HTML 4.01 Recommendation that has been unmaintained by W3C for more than half a decade now, XHTML Modularization teaches most fascinating ways to use obsolete technologies like XML DTDs to build new schemas that, while unsuitable for validation, surely serve a purpose.

I'm glad the HTML Working Group, although expired in 2004, managed to skip the Last Call and Candidate Recommendation steps and I'm glad to see the Implementation Report, although marked as "XHTML-Print" Implementation Report and W3C Proposed Recommendation, confirms that all the major XHTML implementations, Eclipse, oXygen, Sidewinder, and XFormation, are conforming XHTML implementations.

In addition to enlightened DTD-writing methodologies the document also teaches an unprecedented way of exporting attributes for use in compound document environments; I'm excited about the possibilites the xhtml:id, xhtml:style, and xhtml:onkeypress attributes offer to content authors.

Nevertheless, given that the HTML Working Group's response to my request to ask the TAG to review this new aspect of XHTML Modularization--"Its our language and we can do that"--didn't really remove my architectural concerns, I would appreciate if the HTML Working Group could document the design principles established by this new feature in a better way than marking this issue as unresolved in the Group's issue tracker

--Bjoern Hoehrmann on the www-tag mailing list, Tuesday, 14 Feb 2006 01:28:48

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
On the web, proofreading is a game that can be played by every reader

--Ham Richards
Read the rest in E.W.Dijkstra Archive: Home page

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
There's no good reason that you should be forced to buy the movies on your shelf again as low-resolution, single-player thumbnails. After all, if you want to play your CDs on your portable player, you just rip them -- buying the movies you own all over again is strictly for suckers and people with a whole lot more disposable income than me.

--Cory Doctorow,
Read the rest in Turn your DVDs into mobile movies

Monday, February 13, 2006

The companies implementing Semantic Web technology are PATENTING it as fast as they can. So those middle tier business objects implemented over services corresponding to these definitions will be unavailable except from those vendors who get to the business rules first. The survival response will be to create all new terms that fog over the essential claims reference chain such that the same functions are provided but there is no ontological unification.

That means the Semantic Web is an evolutionary dead-end. Kaput.

--Bullard, Claude L (Len) on the xml-dev mailing list, Friday, 20 Jan 2006 14:32:41

Sunday, February 12, 2006
Why does it take more than ten times as many pages to specify XPath 2.0 as it took for XPath 1.0? Answer: because it was done by a bigger committee

--Michael Kay on the xsl-list mailing list, Wednesday, 21 Dec 2005 12:02:13

Friday, February 10, 2006
I still haven't been able to figure out why Microformats have any advantage in Semantic transparency over new vocabularies. Despite the fuzzy claims of μFormatters, a microformat requires just as much specification as a small, standalone format to be useful.

--Uche Ogbuji
Read the rest in Learn how to invent XML languages, then do so ?Copia

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Text-based Web templating systems (MovableType, WordPress, etc.) and active page technologies that seem to allow you to embed program code in document skeleton (ASP, PHP, JSP, Lasso, Net.Data, etc.) are designed for tag soup. They don’t guarantee well-formed XML output. They don’t guarantee correct HTML output, either. They seem to work with HTML, because text/html user agents are lenient and try to cope with broken HTML. The most common mistakes involve not escaping markup-significant characters or escaping them twice.

Don’t use these systems for producing XML. Making mistakes with them is extremely easy and taking all cases into account is hard. These systems have failed smart people who have actively tried to get things right.

--Henri Sivonen
Read the rest in HOWTO Avoid Being Called a Bozo When Producing XML

Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Simple, relaxed, sloppily extensible text formats and protocols often work better than complex and efficient binary ones. Because there are no barriers to entry, these are ideal. A bottom-up initiative can quickly form around them and reach a tipping point in terms of adoption. In other words, anyone can write HTML, no matter how syntax-challenged they may be, because the browsers are so forgiving; and even writing an HTTP server is within the reach of orders of magnitude more than, say, writing a CORBA or DCOM server. What's more, if the text format doesn't work, one can easily mail around the HTTP request or HTML to friends who will examine it in their text tool of choice and explain what is incorrect. In short, having a format that "normal" people can inspect, understand, augment, and author is hugely important to adoption in a bottom-up world.

--Adam Bosworth
Read the rest in ACM Queue - Learning from THE WEB

Tuesday, February 7, 2006
the "photocasting" feature centers around a single undocumented extension element in a namespace that doesn't need to be declared. iPhoto 6 doesn't understand the first thing about HTTP, the first thing about XML, or the first thing about RSS. It ignores features of HTTP that Netscape 4 supported in 1996, and mis-implements features of XML that Microsoft got right in 1997. It ignores 95% of RSS and Atom and gets most of the remaining 5% wrong.

--Mark Pilgrim
Read the rest in Unofficial documentation of iPhoto 6.0 photocasting feeds

Monday, February 6, 2006

I can't understand why so many people want to prevent the browser from passing Atom feeds on to the user's registered feed reader. When a browser encounters an audio/mpeg link what does it do? It passes it on to the user's media player. It doesn't try to display a binary dump of the file, or a waveform image. That would just be stupid. But for some reason people think it makes more sense to display a page full of XML to the user rather than letting them view the feed in their aggregator. I just don't get it.

Admittedly if the user doesn't have an aggregator installed, or their aggregator hasn't registered the application/atom+xml media type, then a save dialog is not particularly useful. At that point it may be more useful for the browser to try and display the XML inline. But that is a fallback situation that should only be considered if there isn't a registered handler for the Atom media type.

--James Holderness on the "Atom Syntax" mailing list, Tuesday, 31 Jan 2006 02:57:13

Saturday, February 4, 2006
Many Chinese have suffered imprisonment and torture in the service of truth Å\ and now Google is collaborating with their persecutors.

--Chris Smith
Read the rest in Wired News: Google Gagged, but There's Hope

Friday, February 3, 2006
Minimal XML, Common XML, SML and friends are pretty much dead in their initial forms but they are still strongly alive in the desperate attempts of some of us to keep XML simple!

--Eric van der Vlist on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 01 Feb 2006 19:25:38

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Every generation of browsers has its boat anchor: that browser which is so painful to develop for that there's nothing professionals would love more than to see it instantly disappear from the desks of users. This is different than simply being old. Old browsers will eventually cycle oh-so-slowly out of circulation. Webdevs understand this and live with it. We're used to pain.

What really rankles is when there's no light at the end of the tunnel. No year we can wistfully mark on the calendar as the date when we can use feature X of the latest CSS spec ("position: fixed"anyone?). In the last 3 years, the title of the Web's Boat Anchor has been handed off from Netscape 4 to IE 6. Like the dreary days of NN 4.7.x, IE 6 is patched and patched again, but never to fix bugs we care about. With Firefox ascendant, MS had no choice but to restart development on IE in order to prevent it from being relegated to displaying help files in Office via an ActiveX control.

--Alex Russell
Read the rest in Continuing Intermittent Incoherency Åt How IE7 Can Avoid Irrelevance

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Microsoft is a platform company. We have built the most popular software platforms on the planet; Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. In the 1990s, two technologies/products attempted to take the place of Windows as the world's #1 developer platform. These technologies/products were the Java platform produced by Sun Microsystems and the Netscape Navigator web browser produced by Netscape. Microsoft met both challenges in a variety of ways including making sure that Windows (a) was the best platform to run Java applications and (b) had the best Web browser on any platform. The goal was simple if Java or the web browser became the platform, then that platform would at the end still be a Windows platform. Of course, some other decisions Microsoft made with regards to competing with Sun and Netscape landed the company in court with billions of dollars in fines and settlements.

Fast forward to the early 2000s, the browser wars are over and IE is the world's dominant Web browser. In an almost text book example of how monopolies work, Microsoft abandoned innovation in IE in a move that showed that at this point IE was considered a cost center not a revenue generator. It simply doesn't make business sense for Microsoft to invest in a technology that dintermediates it's most popular platform, the Windows operating system.

--Dare Obasanjo, Microsoft
Read the rest in Mac IE's Death: A Case for Microsoft Disbanding or Transfering the Windows IE Team

Tuesday, January 31, 2006
You reference Postel's "Robustness Priciple" as if it were a law or something. It certainly is a good idea for "safe" operations, like HTTP GET. I'm entirely unconvinced of the wisdom of it being applied too broadly for POST, PUT, or DELETE operations. The ramifications of silent data loss may be entirely too great.

--Sam Ruby on the atom-protocol mailing list, Friday, 27 Jan 2006 13:38:20

Monday, January 30, 2006

Reuters had stock ticker symbols in their content, e.g.

"blah blah <GOOG> blah"

which went into the feed as :

<description>blah blah <GOOG> blah</description>

- and every single RSS reader rendered this as

"blah blah blah"

--Danny Ayers on the wp-hackers mailing list, Friday, 27 Jan 2006 18:01:03

Sunday, January 29, 2006

One of the things I love about China is that they set high goals, as in “Let’s build a wall around the entire country” and more recently “Let’s have Internet access but without the part where people can access the Internet.”

If you know the history of the Great Wall, it was highly successful in keeping out animals. But invading armies just bribed the guards and walked through the gate. I’m guessing that your smarter animals, say porpoises, could have found a way in also. But porpoises had no interest in conquering China, so we’ll never know. Something tells me that blocking all the unacceptable content on the Internet will be about as effective as the Great Wall.

--Scott Adams,
Read the rest in Chinese Search Engines

Saturday, January 28, 2006
XML DB's are optimized for the set of cases where the hierarchical relationships are the most important ones. XQuery extends this with its ability to do Joins, we shall see if this works well in practice. The relational model is completely general and can handle anything, but can be quite unwieldy and inefficient in practice when order and hierarchy [which are difficult to model in set theory!] hits a critical mass. My favorite example would be an industrial-strength technical manual. Codd proved that you CAN normalize all that ordered, hierarchically structured, textual and data-oriented information and pull it back together with the relational calculus, but I've never heard of anyone actually pulling that feat off with real data and real DBMS software. [Sure, just a simple 100-way join, no problem :-) ]

--Michael Champion on the XML Developers mailing list, Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004

Friday, January 27, 2006

I decided to try PHP iCalendar. Of course, this required getting WebDAV going on our Debian box, which is a MAJOR PAIN IN THE BUTT, lots of things don’t work out of the box. But there’s help online, and when things go wrong (they will) you’ll need to
apt-get install cadaver and look at your Apache error log and paste error messages into search engines, and you’ll eventually get it working. If setting up an Atom server ends up being this much pain, I will have wasted the last two years of my life.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in ongoing · PHP Calendar Fun

Thursday, January 26, 2006
Endicia had a couple of advantages over Stamps.com for our application: it had a decent tool for laying out custom forms and labels exactly the way you wanted, and it had all the documentation on their website. Stamps.com required you to sign up for a developer program, so it took a while to get the documentation we needed, and we needed that thing yesterday, so we just went with Endicia.

--Joel Spolsky
Read the rest in How to Ship Anything

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Inevitably, some parts of the complexity will be necessary -- life isn't always simple -- but without meaningful implementation experience, we don't know *which* parts, so the working groups put them all in just to be safe. That's why we're stuck with the SOAP envelope stuff, for example, rather than simple XML over HTTP, and why XSLT 2.0 apparently gives neck massages, makes coffee, and does your taxes as well as transforming XML documents.

--David Megginson on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 30 Dec 2004

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

the nature of an XML document may well be determined, or at least bounded, by the >QName< of the root element. I don't think the namespace does it. Consider a single namespace that includes two or more element QNames both of which were designed to be used as root elements. For example, I might in the same namespace (shown with prefix ns:) have:


and also


Surely it's wrong to say that the nature of these documents is determined by their namespaces. One's a purchase order, the other an invoice. Both are in the same namespace.

--Noah Mendelsohn on the www-tag mailing list, Tuesday, 17 Jan 2006 18:51:08

Sunday, January 22, 2006
The popular schema languages are generally too simplistic to model the increasingly complex and dynamic information structures. Because of this mismatch, in some cases, even if schemas exist, the result is unfortunately the same as in the previous cases: “rich structure” often translates in practice to “no structure.” For example, the commonly used relational and object-oriented schema languages lack adequate support for describing alternative structures (e.g., authors or editors for books), and for conditional and correlated structures. Examples of such correlations that are difficult to model in existing schema languages are co-occurrence constraints (e.g., if the attribute employer is present, then the attribute salary is also present) and value-based constraints (e.g., if the attribute married has value yes, then the person also has to have an attribute called spouse-name). Very often such cases are represented using a union of all known properties or, even worse, as a global lack of structure.

--Daniela Florescu
Read the rest in ACM Queue - Managing Semi-Structured Data

Saturday, January 21, 2006
Web Services started out looking lightweight. Lately, it looks like a ton of bricks sitting on top of a sea of lard.

--James Robertson
Read the rest in Smalltalk Tidbits, Industry Rants: Did anyone say Corba?

Friday, January 20, 2006
I never considered XML to be a replacement for CSV, I always considered it to be a replacement for ASN.1, complete with all the issues that ASN.1 has.

--Larry Osterman
Read the rest in Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life

Thursday, January 19, 2006
Google is not discussing sharing of the costs of broadband networks with any carrier. We believe consumers are already paying to support broadband access to the Internet through subscription fees and, as a result, consumers should have the freedom to use this connection without limitations.

--Barry Schnitt
Read the rest in Networking Pipeline | Blog | Google: We Won't Pay Broadband Cyberextortion

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
changing a schema (DTD, or whatever structure representation) and associated documents is quite common. We keep doing this in ActiveMath. Changing the POJOs to match is a bit more delicate (and typically has influence much deeper into the code than just the beans). Allow me to add that XPath (which can be used in XOM, DOM, JDOM, XSLT, DOM4j and many others) is the best flexibility and readability you can afford. The performance is smaller, indeed (but not enormous), but the manageability is much greater!

--Paul Libbrecht on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 05 Dec 2005 10:50:40

Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Microformats are just a hair away from my pet reductio ad absurdum<tag type="title"> rather than just <title>. I still haven't heard a decent argument for such periphrasis. And I don't see how the fact that tag is semantically anchored does anything special for the stepchild identifier title in the microformats scenario.

--Uche Ogbuji
Read the rest in Learn how to invent XML languages, then do so ?Copia

Monday, January 16, 2006
when the Internet first reached beyond research facilities to the masses, it did so on regulated lines — telephone lines. Had the telephone companies been free of the “heavy hand” of government regulation, it’s quite clear what they would have done — they would have killed it, just as they did when Paul Baran first proposed the idea in 1964. It was precisely because they were not free to kill it, because the “heavy hand[ed]” regulation required them to act neutrally, that the Internet was able to happen, and then flourish.

--Lawrence Lessig
Read the rest in Lawrence Lessig

Sunday, January 15, 2006

external entities are inherently unsafe for Web documents, because non-validating XML processors are allowed not to process them and someone may be using a non-validating XML processor to parse the content you serve on the Web. Therefore, it makes sense not to rely on external entities. When you are not relying on them, why have them around at all? Anyone processing them would just waste time. The straight-forward way is to produce doctypeless XML.

But what about validation? It turns out there is a better validation formalism than DTDs. It is more interesting to know the answer to the question “Does this document conform to these rules?” than to the question “Does this document conform to the rules it declares itself?” RELAX NG validation answers the first question. DTD validation of answers the second. RELAX NG allows you to validate a document against a schema that is more expressive than a DTD without polluting the document with schema-specific syntax.

--Henri Sivonen
Read the rest in HOWTO Avoid Being Called a Bozo When Producing XML

Saturday, January 14, 2006
I do think it wins to configure things in XML, though it's harder to edit: when I switched TagSoup's configuration files from tab-separated-values to XML, I got RELAX NG and XSLT validation practically for free, and flushed out a bunch of nasssssty bugs.

--John Cowan
Read the rest in Learn how to invent XML languages, then do so ?Copia

Friday, January 13, 2006
Be as loosely coupled as possible. Ideally, the server runs asynchronously with respect to the client. They are loosely coupled with respect to time. Then it is easy to maximize overall server throughput and handle prioritization of requests and failover. Unfortunately, this isn’t widely practiced because of the nature of most of today’s applications frameworks, which do not make asynchrony easy enough for mere mortal programmers, and because the one thing about which asynchrony is unreliable is guaranteed latency, which is essential to a good user experience. The frameworks were derived to support killer apps, which were all about user interface. Failing asynchrony, then at least have a model in which there isn’t a hard link (meaning an IP link) between the client and the server because load and code on servers are always altering and machines do fail. So always go through indirection on the way to the server. URLs and redirects both obviously serve this purpose and, between them, do it very well. Some people swizzle at the DNS level and others at the redirect level, but both let one handle moving load and code around, even at runtime. In either case, don’t require shared secrets, let alone shared code, to make things work. For example, the browser will continue to work with a site even if the code at the site is completely replaced and the language switched and the operating system switched. There is a limit to this. HTTP and HTML are shared secrets between the browser and the server, so perhaps the rule should be to have incredibly few of them and make them incredibly simple, flexible, forgiving, and generic.

--Adam Bosworth
Read the rest in ACM Queue - Learning from THE WEB

Thursday, January 12, 2006

XML invites us to model information as a tree, but it need not be processed in that form. XML can be understood, and processed, at several different levels of abstraction:

  • As a character stream (this is the layer actually defined by the XML spec itself)
  • As a sequence of data characters interspersed with markup (a regular language)
  • As a tree in the obvious way, with one node per element, and the attributes as decorations on the nodes
  • As a graph in which internodal links are defined by parent-child relations between XML elements, by ID/IDREF links, or by application-specific methods of linking between elements
  • As a tree or graph annotated with information about data types and validity (as the output of schema validation)
  • As an instance of an application data structure, with arbitrary structure, built on the basis of the XML input.

The multiplicity of levels sometimes confuses new users and may affront the sensibilities of those who see virtue only in the definition of a model with access restricted to a single abstraction layer, provided through a well-controlled application programming interface. Users of descriptive markup, however, have been reluctant to limit themselves to a single level of abstraction. It is convenient to have tools that understand the higher-level abstractions in the list above, but it’s also convenient to be able to copy or transcode XML documents reliably with mechanisms that understand the data only as a stream of characters. Different levels of abstraction are suitable for different processes and applications: A copy program can be happy with XML-as-character-stream, but a typical application program will typically wish to abstract away from the details of the character stream (for example, silently omitting nonsignificant white spaces). Most XML-aware software prefers to work at the element level, but XML editors are frequently an exception, since users who carefully pretty-print their XML comments or markup in an ASCII editor are typically irate if an XML editor reformats the markup.

If different applications want or need different levels of abstraction, it is certainly understandable that the proponents of descriptive markup, fighting as they were for application independence, would find it an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, to allow XML to be viewed at so many different levels.

--C. M. Sperberg-Mcqueen
Read the rest in ACM Queue - XML and Semi-Structured Data - What role can XML play in solving the semi

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What the URI used as a namespace name identifies *as a URI* cannot be known insofar as its use as a namespace name.

What that URI identifies *as a namespace name* is, well, a namespace; a space of names.

What's important is to not confuse those two interpretations of the URI used as a namespace name.

--Patrick Stickler on the www-tag mailing list, Wednesday, 16 Feb 2005 11:46:22

Monday, January 9, 2006

A failed redesign is a Web page created from scratch, or substantially updated, during the era of Web standards that nonetheless ignores or misuses those standards. A failed redesign pretends that valid code and accessibility guidelines do not exist; it pretends that the 21st century is frozen in the amber of the year 1999. It indicates not merely unprofessional Web-development practices but outright incompetence. For if you are producing tag-soup code and using tables for layout in the 21st century, that’s what you are: Incompetent.

When teenagers’ hobbyist blogs (short for “Web logs”) have better code than brand-new Web sites, somebody’s doing something wrong. And that somebody is you, the developer. In a just society you would simply be fired; in an Orwellian society you would be sent to a reëducation camp. Failing either of those, you could at least read a fucking book and upgrade your skills to a point where you are no longer a total laughingstock.

And yes, if you are the developer of any of these sites and we should ever meet, I will tell all of this to your face, and I certainly reserve the right to publicly ridicule your site onstage in the future. Because you’re worth it.

--Joe Clark
Read the rest in Le «blog personnel» de Joe Clark » Failed Redesigns

Sunday, January 8, 2006
The primary benefit of XML 1.0 is its ubiquity which has led to a large ecosystem of tools and technologies for working with it. In general, XML is a suboptimal solution for most of the tasks developers use it for, however this is offset by the gains of working within the XML ecosystem. From the impression I got from the Binary XML town hall last week a number of folks (e.g. the US military, mobile service providers) would like to get this ecosystem of tools without the suboptimal text format. Basically they want to have their cake and eat it too.

--Dare Obasanjo on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 22 Nov 2004

Saturday, January 7, 2006
The problem is that parental controls isn’t really a technological problem: it’s a kind of security problem, where the weakest link is what tells the real story. Any 12 year old that can’t access porn at his home computer is going to do the simplest thing: hang out at friend’s house who’s parents don’t use parental controls. That’s what me and my friends did to look at Playboy magazines, and I doubt 12 years olds today are much different. Few technologies will ever stand up to the will of adolescents trying to do things they’re told they’re not allowed to do

--Scott Berkun
Read the rest in How to build a better browser

Friday, January 6, 2006
While the founders couldn't have anticipated the internet, their imperative still stands. Freedom of speech trumps everything in a free society. (As long as nobody gets killed, which is why you can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater.) It has to. Without it, a society is no longer free. That's why the Nazis get to march through Skokie, Illinois, and why Rush Limbaugh gets to have a radio show. It's revolting sometimes, but to deny a single individual the right to free expression is to begin sliding down that slippery slope toward authoritarianism. The dulcet drone of Limbaugh's boorishness is the price you pay to breathe free.

--Tony Long
Read the rest in Wired News: Your Right to Be an Idiot

Thursday, January 5, 2006
The purpose of CDATA is to indicate that things that appear to be markup are not really markup at all. Using CDATA when the things inside it actually *are* markup is liable to get everyone very confused.

--Michael Kay on the XOM-interest mailing list, Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 16:36:34

Wednesday, January 4, 2006
A chief advantage of open source is that if you want to work on the code, you don't have to go through the whole bureaucratic process that, say, big proprietary companies usually make you go through.

--Luis Suarez-Potts
Read the rest in :: Interviews : OpenOffice.org 2.0: An Office Suite With No Horizons

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

The thing that people always latch onto is that it has to do with anonymity. But it doesn't have to do with knowing who you are. We care about pseudo-identity, not identity. The fact that a certain user has a persistent pseudo-identity over time allows us to gauge the quality of that user without having any idea of who it really is.

Trying to find out who people really are is a fool's mission on the Net. You could get a credit card ID but that doesn't even tell you very much: This is Bob Smith of Missouri. But if an editor identifies himself as Zocky, I know it's good even though I don't know who Zocky is because I know Zocky's history on the site. I know he's not a spammer, I know he's not making things up — at least within the value of "know" that's relevant in this case

--Jimmy Wales
Read the rest in JOHO

Monday, January 2, 2006
Neither typographers nor their tools should labor under the sad misapprehension that no one will ever mention crêpes flambées or aïoli, no one will have a name like Antonín Dvořák, Søren Kierkegaard, Stéphane Mallarmé or Chloë Jones, and no one will live in Óbidos or Århus, in Kromìøíž or Øster Vrå, Průhonice or Nagykõrös, Dalasÿsla, Kırkağaç or Köln.

--Robert Bringhurst, The elements of typographic style, version 2.4, page 90)

Sunday, January 1, 2006

there are very few areas where XML isn't found anymore. Consider, for instance, the breadth of discussions at the conference itself. Desktop publishing has become an XML discipline. Geographical information systems. Application development. 2D and 3D graphics. Database storage and integration. Clusters and distributed computing. Artificial Intelligence (a.k.a. Semantic Web). Financial Services. Transactional Orchestration. Embedded Systems. Web anything.

The challenge with such a conference, then, is the fact that some time in the last few years, XML technology has become the software industry. Certainly this is an oversimplification; the number of Java and C++ programmers out there attest to that if nothing else, but at the same time what is happening is what I've suspected would happen for a while - these developers are increasingly focusing their efforts not on the development of large scale applications, but much further down the stack, providing ways for XML related technologies to serve as the abstraction layers within the application space.

--Kurt Cagle
Read the rest in Reporting Live from XML 2005 in Atlanta

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