The 11th Australasian World Wide Web Conference

2nd to 6th July, 2005 @ Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, Australia
There were 3 papers in my session, with 4 presenters, the session chair and an audience of about 20 people. Mine was the second paper, I was up there for about 18 minutes or so going through my slides and demonstrating the template editor and FO output plugins. After all 3 papers, there was a general Q&A forum where all of the presenters fielded questions. One issue raised was why we had used Java so heavily rather than a pure XSLT system (XHTML and OfficeML). Someone else asked “what does the Oracle database do?” There was also some speculation about how well the Excel output would handle 3rd party XML, formatted using a custom FO template. I explained that we did not yet have a XSL 1.0 compliant implementation, and to the extent that we had not implemented all of the FO elements there would be visual discrepancies between the ideal (PDF) output and its spreadsheet equivalent. A Web developer from RMIT also raised a question about maintaining all of the FO templates in the face of changes in the XML Schema Definition. This is definitely something we should look at w.r.t. XDO/FRM (some process for taking an existing FO template and updating it to match a revised XSD)
There is definitely a resistance at AusWeb to “death by Powerpoint” or being “talked at”. Allan Ellis, the conference chair, made the point that a format of brief presentations followed by general discussion makes better use of the physical co-location of the delegates. I feel that you are much better able to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge of a topic by fielding questions, rather than by delivering a rote presentation. It also means less pressure to “entertain the audience” and more pressure on the attendees themselves to read your paper and come prepared with intelligent, insightful questions.
In total, there were about 100 delegates at the conference although some years there has been up to 350. Besides technologists and academics, there were also a number of T&L people (educators), librarians and the armed forces. The food and accomodation at Royal Pines wasn’t too bad, and evening activities such as the trivia night and BBQ were great opportunities to meet people who were using XML for a wide variety of purposes. I will give a brief overview of some other papers and poster sessions that I attended:
Keynote speakers were not that great – the IBM guy, the lawyer but particularly the entrepeneur were clearly there to push an agenda (and/or to sell stuff). The librarian from Berkeley gave a fantastic talk, however, that covered a heap of areas and issues in his field.
13 papers were presented in the Technical & Standards track, although due to overlap I was not able to attend all of them.
XUP seems to have a lot of potential as a next-generation paradigm for developing highly interactive enterprise GUI. There is a big shift away from installing applications on the client computer, and the current trend of using ECMAScript to implement interactivity in proprietary software has some major downsides. The alternative proposed by XUP is to define the user interface using XML on the client, defining event listeners that trigger a SOAP request (either synchronous or async), which is handled on the server. Lower maintenance costs, coupled with tighter control over IP (since all business logic is implemented on the server side) could make for a very tidy solution.
DotNotelets and DotTegular are interesting from the perspective of Agile methodologies. This Web application presents a user interface for creating a hierarchy of resizable, moveable notes. Clicking on a note drills down to the next layer of detail. Although originally developed for concept maps, it seems like an excellent tool for documenting use cases (the "planning game").
Xinq (XML-inquire) made excellent use of XQuery and the XML:DB API for rapid prototyping of searchable and updatable browser interfaces.

Comments

Jaye said…
I had a look at the XUP article. It was an interesting read, however, I am not convinced that it will be successful in the big world out there.

The major technical difficulty that isn't described in any detail is how to handle events generated by the server and that need to be sent to the UI.

Also, I am not convinced that there is much IP that is given away from ECMA script in a html page. Most of the UI done in ECMA script is well known practices, with most of the IP on the server side.

Also, some developers put a lot of logic on the client side, because of the latency problems to send everything to the server.

Anyway, I have biten the bullet and have decided to create my own blog. I will try to write a post going into more detail about my reservations about this so called new 'paradigm' shift. I will post a comment here linking to it.

-- Jaye the Poison Elf
Jaye said…
Well I written my first blog, what do you think...

http://pillmaster.blogspot.com/2005/07/my-first-blog.html

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