18 Jul 2003 simonstl   » (Master)

Last week was a blur of two conferences - OSCON and the Sells Brothers Applied XML Conference, both in the Portland, Oregon area. The two conferences were very different for a few fundamental reasons:

  • OSCON is completely dominated by open source cultures and values, despite the Microsoft-paid lunch, while Applied XML was largely a .NET fest, with a host presently employed by Microsoft and lots of Microsoft-oriented content.

  • While OSCON had an largely tutorial XML track (which I thought went very well, though I'm biased as I chaired it), Applied XML was a single-track conference where every session had something to do with, and generally focused on, XML.

Applied XML was smaller and more tightly focused, but it had a similar energy level to OSCON, at least in the hallway conversations. OSCON was amazing as usual for bringing together developers from a variety of different communities, and letting them explore sessions they found interesting. A lot of tracks benefited from crossovers between different kinds of developers.

One especially interesting bit was the crossover between the conferences. There was a BOF session Wednesday night on what it would take to implement dynamic languages (Perl, Python, Ruby, etc.) efficiently in the .NET environment, which was built with statically typed languages (think C#). That conversation's probably just getting started, but there were some fascinating bits. Peter Drayton and Brad Merrill of Microsoft, who hosted the BOF, were at both shows, and seemed happy in both contexts.

(There was also a surprising amount of RDF in conversations at both conferences, continuing a trend I noticed at OSCOM. It wasn't on either conference program, but it was in the bars and hallways.)

Though I'm really tired of traveling, I'm looking forward to one last conference this summer - one that combines the small size and XML focus of the Applied XML conference with the community approach of OSCON. Extreme Markup Languages, running from August 4-8, has seen fit to give me a Daily Polemic. I suppose it's appropriate given my usual style, but it's still a pretty scary responsibility.

To live up to that challenge, I've turned to the wonderful world of Playmobil. Playmobil figures make excellent computer consultants, especially now that Playmobil offers office equipment. I'm hoping to use SMIL for the slides, though maybe it'll be SVG. We'll see.

I'll be taking next week off - I decided it was time to spend some time working on my own projects and remember why I like doing this stuff. (Maybe I won't - we'll see!) In addition to the Playmobil photo shoot, I'm hoping to put some work in on my Java tools for processing XML. I haven't been able to spend more than one day at a time on them lately, with months between sessions.

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