Gilbane Conference on Monday: XML strategies for information interchange

I'll be at the Gilbane Conference on Monday, where Jean Paoli, Tim Bray, and I will have a three-way discussion/debate on XML strategies for information interchange. In his blog entry about the session, Frank Gilbane refers to this entry in which I gathered my thoughts for the Boston edition of this conference back in November. Back then, I was in Jean Paoli's camp on the value of custom schemas, and in Tim Bray's camp on the value of XHTML. Events since then have reinforced both views.

In a report from the first annual Microsoft Office developer conference, I wrote:

I've mainly thought about XSD as a way to assure document validity in a declarative way. And that's true, though we've yet to see much demonstrable benefit. But XSD is also a useful organizing principle for smart-document apps. It gives you a way to identify the parts of the document to which behavior will be attached, and to automate the connections between document elements and code.

As I learned on my trip to Redmond, Microsoft Office developers are only now starting to catch up with the XML smarts in Office 2003.

Sun's XForms work, which has only recently appeared in the 2.0 beta, seems likely to also ramp up slowly.

I expect great things from both of the XML-enriched office suites. Meanwhile, though, a combination of trends -- Gmail, Greasemonkey, AJAX-style development in general -- is unleashing long-latent capabilities of the modern browser. Will Firefox become viable as a ubiquitous XForms client? Can XHTML do more than we think? Will browsers become interactively schema-aware? And finally, what will be the role of the office suites in this enriched web environment?

I'm tagging gilbaneSF2005 onto this entry so, if you're inclined to blog questions or comments, you might try using that tag in, or Technorati, or whatever system you prefer.

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