If you love XML and markup languages, and think you have something to say, submit a paper. We will judge you but we will also welcome you. There are few better places than XML Prague to introduce an idea or make an argument.
You know you want to.
My XML Prague paper for 2016 was accepted. The subject is Virtual Document Management. It’s based on a Balisage paper of mine, but it’s also the result of what I do, right now. I think it’s kind of cool.
I also joined the XML Prague programme committee, which means that I get to read papers. I’m glad to help out and being a committee member sounds a bit posh.
Quite a few friends and colleagues of mine are attending and, sometimes, contributing. It’s going to be an exciting conference and I am really looking forward to it.
As 2015 draws to a close, I’m thinking of 2016 and specifically these highlights:
…to XML Prague 2016. Well, it’s more of an extended abstract, but my extended abstracts are like some people’s full papers.
Wish me luck.
My paper submission to this year’s Balisage conference was accepted. It’s about an eXist implementation I did for the Swedish Federation of Farmers (LRF), and while I may not be completely objective, I think the system is very cool. From the conference blurb:
The Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) provides its 170,000 members with a web-based service to check compliance with state and EU farming regulations. These checklists are also produced nightly both as generic checklists with more than 130 pages and as individualised checklists for registered members. The system consists of an eXist database coupled with oXygen Author. The checklists and their related contents are edited, stored, and processed, published as PDFs, and exported to the SQL database which stores member registration, feeds the website, and does various other tasks. The system uses XQuery, XSLT, XInclude modularization, an extended XLink linkbase, and other markup technologies. It currently handles more than 40,000 PDF documents a year and many more than that in the web-based forms.
This is the second version of the LRF system. The first, presented at XML Prague in 2013, was XProc-based and represented my somewhat naive trust in the state of XProc in eXist, The new one I rewrote in XQuery, having tested (and failed miserably at using) the XProc module that is now available. XProc in eXist, sadly, is not yet ready for prime time.
Be as it may, I’m really pleased about both the system and my paper. and hope to see you there.
XML Prague 2015 is over and I’m now at the Prague airport, waiting to board a plane. The weather is beautiful–from where I am, it looks like spring–and I’m on a high after my XML holiday.
Some impressions, in no particular order:
I’ll probably write more later. Time to board a plane.
And the winner is…
You should have been there.
I finally got an approval from my boss to attend XML Prague 2015 and registered for it the other day. I’m not presenting this time around, just listening and learning, and looking very much forward to it.
Having reread my recent post on HTML5, I suppose I’d better stress the fact that it was never meant to be a commentary on HTML5 itself. It was a rant, something that happened because of the attitudes I think have increased in tandem with HTML5’s growing popularity. I really don’t know enough HTML5 to have an informed opinion beyond what I see suggested and discussed about it that is related to markup in general. My comments should be read in that light.
Take the addition of document semantics in HTML5 as a case in point. For example, the article and section tags are welcomed additions, as are, in my humble opinion, the fairly minor redefinitions of the em and strong semantics. And there’s some important work being done in the area of extensible semantics for the web (see, for example, Robin Berjon’s XML Prague paper, Distributed Extensibility: Finally Done Right? and the Web Components web page on best practices), which turned out to be a heated topic at Balisage this year because quite a few of its participants are, like me, grumpy old men defending their own turf.
These are steps in the right direction, because they move away from the presentational horror that is the “old” HTML and to a more semantic web. Semantics is about meaning, and meaning is now being added to the web rather than simply empty but oh-so-cool visuals. I should add that some very cool visuals are being added, too, but in, and please pardon the joke, a meaningful way.
But, and maybe this is just me, it’s when those steps are being heralded as original and unique, never thought of before or at least never done right, when history and past (and working) solutions are ignored or misinterpreted because they are part of a standard (XML or even SGML) that is regarded as failed, when I react. Google’s Dominic Denicola provided a case in point when he held a controversial presentation on the subject called Non-Extensible Markup Language at Balisage; unfortunately, only the abstract seems to be available at their website.
That grumpy old men thing, above, is meant as a joke, of course, but I imagine there to be some truth in it. Part of the HTML5 crowd will certainly see it that way because they are trying to solve a very practical problem using a very pragmatic standard. HTML5 is, in part, about keeping old things working while adding new features, and it seems to do the job well. Having to listen to some older markup geeks argue about what XML was actually designed to do must seem to be as being utterly beside the point.
So, what to do? Well, I think it’s largely about education, both for the newer guys to read up on the historical stuff, and the older guys to try to understand why HTML5 is happening the way it is, and then attempting to meet halfway because I’m pretty sure it will benefit both.
Me, I’m in the midst of the reading up phase, and HTML5 – The Missing Manual is an important part of that.
Following this year’s Balisage conference, I should probably do a rewrite and update of the whitepaper I presented. It’s on my list of things to do.
On the other hand, I should do an eXist implementation of the version handling system I suggested in that paper. It’s also on my list of things to do.
But then again, I still have to finish my ProXist implementation, the one I presented at XML Prague. It is (you guessed it) on my list.
I have lots of good (well, I think so) ideas first presented at XML conferences, many of which deserve (well, I think so) to live beyond them. After all, a lot of work goes into the papers and the presentations, so shouldn’t I follow up on them more?
My version handling system, for example, should be easy enough to do in eXist. It doesn’t require a revolution, it doesn’t require me to learn how to code in Java, it should be enough to spend a couple of nights writing XQueries and XSLT to produce a usable first version.
ProXist is both simpler and more difficult to finish, but on the other hand, the basic application is already out there and works. It’s a question of rewriting it to be easier for others to test, which basically means redoing it as a standard eXist app.
Yet, instead of doing something about either of them, here I am, writing this blog post. It’s conference procrastination taken to yet another level.
And the next XML Prague deadline is coming up fast.