By Esther Schindler  |  Posted 2004-10-21 Print this article Print

-Term Results?"> Some XML technologies have yielded long-term results, or they will. "We had pretty ambitious goals for SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol]," said Don Box, a Microsoft architect in the Distributed Systems group working on Indigo. "The one thing we wanted was an extensibility mechanism other than XMLs throw [stuff] anywhere you want." Today, Box said, SOAPs header extensibility model is the conceptual basis for the serialization engine for .NET. Yet "the single most important thing we [previously] left out was WS-Mex [metadata exchange] or something like it," Box said. Its now a core part of Indigo, and "every SOAP endpoint will support WS-Mex by 2007."

And theres plenty of dissent among the experts, none of whom are shy with their opinions. Even when they agree on the problems, they dont always agree on the solutions, with the sharpest division between those who prefer APIs and programming models versus data streaming.
"WS-Eventing is missing the boat," Bray said. "If this entire experiment fails, I think the fingerprints [on the knife] will be on WSD and XSD," Box commented.

Standards could be coming to supply chain management. Click here to read about beta testing on a new XML-enabled implementation of VMI (vendor-managed inventory). But each speaker had an underlying theme of "keep it simple." Bray exhorted developers to create solutions based on the MPRDV approach: the "minimum progress required to declare victory." Add functionality only when you have to, and based on real experience, he said. "Committees going into rooms do not invent the future," he said. Anderson reminded developers that "XML is cardboard"—the transport medium for the "important stuff" youre moving from place to place.

Thats not to say that developers are down on XML—not hardly! These folks are the ones immersed in the technology and clearing the path for those to follow. "Theyre shining the light in the dark corners," remarked one conference attendee. Because of the technology sharing, one long-outstanding bug that IBMs Ruby demonstrated on the MSDN site was fixed within two hours.

Despite XMLs imperfections, each presenter saw the benefits that XML and Web services have brought, from RSS (Really Simple Syndication) ubiquity to interoperability to the importance of internationalization. On her blog, Rebecca Dias, product manager for advanced Web services at Microsoft, said, "Everyone generally agrees that schema has its shortcomings, but it is facilitating huge amounts of value for customers. Thousands of business documents today are based on a schema. So, is XML Schema a failure?"

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Esther Schindler has been writing about software development tools and trends since the mid-90s, and about the effect of technology on our lives for far longer. She has optimized compilers, written end-user applications, designed QA processes, and owned a computer retail and consulting business. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with a husband, two cats, and a well-known tropism for anything chocolate.

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