Tuesday, June 21, 2005

East Coast Travels

Humidity. Heat. Subways. Art. Family. Friends.

I just returned from a whirlwind trip to the east-coast. Two of my best friends finally tied the knot and an absolutely gorgeous ceremony, outside, in the woods, with a small pond in the background. This was my first real summer visit to the east-coast in roughly 8 years. Damn it was hot and worse… humid! I forget how spoiled I am by Seattle. Mild summers and milder winters have softened my skin. Not just me, either. My friends from Seattle who were also out for the wedding where all complaining as well. And the bugs… None of that managed to upset a fun gathering of great people. Although I think I could have lived without the sing-along on the ride home over the mountain, thank you Miranda.

I wandered D.C. with my own personal art/science guide (ez-g). Many thanks as well to my father for deeding me fair skin that burns at the slightest touch of sunlight. Unfortunately, I learned after I left, that there is a new American Indian museum which is supposed to be quite good.

Amtrak to NYC was fast and painless. Traveling by plane has become such a painful process, with all the security checks, delays, and queue upon queues. By train, I could show up less than 30 minutes before departure, find a seat that didn’t include some stranger’s elbow in my face. Business class is not much more expensive and includes a wall outlet for laptop power. I recommend against smashing a Snapple bottle in your backpack, as it tends to drown one’s iPod.

NYC just rocks. The Met. MOMA. The Guggenheim. A real subway.
And a special appreciation to all the beautiful people I had the pleasure to watch wander about the city. And extra thanks to Peter for providing a friendly couch.

As I mentioned before, I recently became an uncle. I finally had the opportunity to meet my tiny nephew; at some point I’ll post some pictures. My father has imbued me with a love of boating, but I haven’t been out with him on his boat in 8+ years… until this trip.

Good trip. Not the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever taken, but aside from my iPod misadventure, I have no regrets.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

XSD aka W3C XML Schema

There is a great discussion of XSD on XML-DEV happening right now. See this months thread index (http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/200506/threads.html) and look for "Document oriented experience reports anyone?" for some choice comments. My favorite so far comes from Robin Berjon
...the syntax of XML Schema was obviously produced by someone who grew up at the bottom of a deep well in the middle of a dark, wasteful moor where he was tortured daily by abusive giant squirrels and wishes to share his pain with the world.

XSD is both a necessary and unfortunately ugly reality. While there exist alternatives (RelaxNG, Schematron, DTDs) none of them quite cover the spread of scenarios that XSD does. The downside of XSDs breadth is that it is arduously complicated. My team has spent more time working out ugly edge cases in our XSD code than any other standard. (Although I bet XQuery would likely become a close competitor if we had chosen to implement it.) XSD demonstrates both the angels and demons of design by committee. XSD is mostly acceptable to a much wider variety of real use-cases, more so than any of the competitors. Then there is the momentum issue... Microsoft choose to back XSD. Even in System.Xml implemented support for RelaxNG (for example) it would take years to push support into BizTalk, Office, SqlServer, etc... Such a shift would be a huge undertaking that would have ripple effects throughout the company. Thus it is that good-enough preserves its foothold, despite the potential of something better.