XTech Day Three

Belatedly (I only got back from Amsterdam last Monday), here are some notes from XTech Day 3.
On the Friday morning I initially attended two talks about RDF frameworks, firstly Dave Beckett’s Bootstrapping RDF applications with Redland and then David Wood’s introduction to
Kowari: A Platform for Semantic Web Storage and Analysis. I’ve not really used either of these toolkits yet, but at work we’re looking at trying out Kowari as one of the candidate triple stores for holding our massive dataset. John Barstow‘s work on the port of Redland to windows makes it more likely that I’ll be trying out Dave’s toolkit for some personal hacking projects too.

Later in the morning I went to Jeni Tennison’s presentation on Managing Complex Document Generation through Pipelining. Tennison gave an excellent overview of the concept of pipelining, as well as the typical components and transformation operations that arise from a pipeline architecture.
I took the liberty of culling a number of relevant links from the paper and presentation and adding them to del.icio.us. I’ve long been a fan of pipelining so it was good to see the concept being aired more widely.
In fact work on pipelining is one item I’d like to see from the The Future of XML at W3C, which was the theme of a panel discussion that followed Tennison’s paper. The panel consisted of Liam Quinn, Norman Walsh and Robin Berjon. I’ve summarised some of the discussion in the XTech Wiki but was ultimately disappointed as the audience didn’t engage with the speakers as much as I’d hoped. There was a greater community feel, and lively debate, in the previous days session on XHTML and the WHATWG. This was no fault of the panel, and may just have been symptomatic of the panel occuring on the last day. The positive side to this is that this was one of several public discussions that the W3C had taken part in; it’s very good to see that they’re listening to community feedback. My own request is straight-forward: Pipelining, please!
The conference ended after lunch with Jean Paoli’s keynote. I grew frustrated during this talk for several reasons. Firstly, it was mostly Microsoft centric, to the extent that Paoli even showed a product case study video for the Infopath features in Microsoft Office. His general theme was that there was a quiet revolution happening in offices around the world and millions more XML documents are being generated every day by people quietly going about their business. I quite agree, but the MS slant was a bit too heavy for my taste. Granted, Paoli was quick to recognise other platforms, e.g. as points of integration, but not surprisingly ignored developments with OpenDocument.
Secondly, Paoli raised the issue of the web service debate (i.e. SOAP+WSDL vs. REST, etc, etc). He admitted that he didn’t get it, and just saw that SOAP+WSDL was, no question, an evolutionary forward step in web services. In fact he stressed to the audience that they were doing users a disservice by continuing the debate, and that we should instead just focus on selling them what they need, i.e. Web Services. This left me quietly fuming, so perhaps coloured my view of the entire talk.
I should stress that this isn’t meant to be general MS-bashing. I do strongly agree with Paoli’s point that the ability to generate, manipulation and process XML documents within desktop suites is a major revolution and a great step forwards. I just think it could have been better positioned, especially with respect to the Open Data theme which was a major topic of the whole conference.