I spoke at the XML UK Optimal XML event in Cambridge yesterday under the topic of “Scanning the Horizon: What’s Hot in Upcoming XML Technologies”. The talk seemed to go well, which I was quite pleased about. Lots of questions at the end which I usually take to be a good sign that people were interested enough to pay attention!
I ended up discussing mainly XQuery and XForms as the two technologies that I think are going to make most impact in the short term. I also gave a few demos using XQuisitor and XSmiles, having decided that it was probably better to showcase a couple of technologies rather than spend 40 minutes reeling off numerous different acronyms.
I’m quite impressed with the flexibility of XQuery and can see me adopting it in a number of cases where I’d normally resort to using XSLT. If you’re going to take a look at XQuery yourself then I strongly recommend XQuery From The Experts which is a superb reference which covers the details of the language as well as some often frank discussion about how various design decisions were made.
XForms is a real pleasure to work with. I gave a quick demo of a trial XForms port of the FOAF-a-Matic, something that Micah Dubinko suggested I investigate a while ago. I wish I’d looked sooner as it’s a really easy language to work with. I can recommend Micah’s XForms Essentials book, but buy a paper copy as it’s quicker to leaf through.
The main reason I go to these kind of events is to meet up with other people from the XML community. I encountered a lot of interesting folk at this event, including Sean McGrath who gave the opening keynote. Sean’s presentation was excellent, very funny and insightful. I got chance to chat with Sean and ask a few questions I’d had about Service Oriented Architecture’s. The most interesting tidbit that he left me with, and which had me buried in a Python tutorial on the journey home, was that when building messaging systems he writes Message Driven Beans using Jython, relying on the Bean Scripting Framework to mesh the two languages together. Sean has an interesting perspective on the relative merits of Java the language as opposed to Java the platform.
I also got time to chat to Tony Hammond and Ben Lund who co-authored the RSS 1.0 Prism Module. Ben was also responsible for the design of Urchin an online RSS aggregator that Nature Publishing Group built in collaboration with the JISC. Ben gave a presentation on RSS Best Practices and, based on his experiences working on Urchin, suggested the use of RSS 1.0 whenever extensibility was an important factor. Tony, Ben and I had an interesting chat about RSS, RDF and using RDF data models and stores.
NPG’s exploration of RSS based applications are very interesting. I’m hoping to shortly unveil a number of the prototypes I’ve written very shortly. These use data (content and user activity statistics) from Ingenta.com to produce some interesting feeds. Got to get a big project out of the way first though.
XML UK are having another event in June (not yet advertised on their site). This one will be in Didcot, and will cover XML Schema languages. There was also a plug for the XMLOpen conference in September. It’s pretty likely I’m going to attend both of these events and may submit papers depending on my workload.