Thursday, May 26, 2005

XTech 2005

At first glance, XTech could be described as "WWW Lite", but a better conference for the development and user foci. A reasonable subset of the normal cast of characters are here, including John Wilbanks and Ivan Herman (W3C), Dave Beckett (on Redland), Jean Broekstra (Aduna/Sesame). Alistair Miles (on SKOS). Libby Miller is here, chairing a session. The Mozilla Foundation is well represented by Mike Shaver and Ben Goodger (lead engineer on Firefox). Dominique Hazael-Massieux is presenting on GRDDL.

Michael Kay has founded a new company, Saxonica, creating both the free Saxon processor and a new commercial one. He presented a comparison of XQuery and XSLT (2.0) in which he claimed to be evenly biased. Interestingly, he suggested that Saxonica (and other companies) would start to produce products supporting a fusion of the two languages for commercial advantage.

XQuery has been designed to be small and optimized for database queries. XSLT has more features, such as templates, formatting, regexps. XSLT is a flexible, dynamic language, which is exactly what you don't want in a database query language like XQuery.

XSLT is stronger on:

  • rendition

  • up-conversion

  • documents

XQuery is stronger on:

  • optimization

  • structured data

Ben Goodger gave an introductory talk on XUL, Mozilla's XML-based UI language. XUL uses GTK's Flexible Box Model, which I have always blamed for GTK's widget/panel initial sizing issues but he raved about it. The coolest thing I heard was that one can write apps as if one were scripting a Web app, but bind it to XUL. I will have to try writing a XUL app.

He recommended two books for XUL development: Rapid Application Development with Mozilla (for full XUL apps) and Firefox Hacks, which includes a couple of chapters on XUL extensions for Firefox.

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