Red pill for Michael Champion

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Oh that big news - Michael Champion is now Program Manager for XML Standards in the Microsoft's XML WebData team. Wow, wow, wow - that's the only words I can say. Here is his intro on his new blog (hey, he is a Microsoft employee, so it's, not, but actually both URLs work). Subscribed.

The focus of my job at MS (as I understand it -- I'm still new!) is to help the WebData team track XML technologies and specifications as they emerge, mature, and are standardized, and to be a source for information needed to decide which specs to support in what timeframes.
I think we can translate that as "my job is to help Microsoft to avoid wasting resources on black hole projects in XML field", such as XmlDocument,XPathDocument,XmlDocument story or cut XQuery support in .NET2.0. Well, that's definitely going to benefit both Microsoft and us - ordinary .NET XML devs.

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Thanks for the kind words, and I'm happy that your're happy, but I wouldn't read too much into my new job :-) "Standards" are not the cure for all that ails .NET users. In fact, a lot of the confusion in the XmlDocument, XPathDocument, XmlDocument story comes from the fact that the "standards" are immature, inconsistent, and somewhat buggy. (I can can say that because I personally must take some of the blame!). DOM, XPath1, and XPath/XQuery themselves have inconsistent data models, which cause massive headaches for anyone trying to be both standards compliant and provide usable functionality.

The WebData team has done a phenomenal amount of thinking about how to do this stuff in a way that is both usable, efficient, and at least consistent with expectations raised by the DOM and XPath families of specs. That has taken a few iterations, but that's life. Of course the .NET APIs can improve, and I hope to do my part (mainly by facilitating communication among the group, the user base and standards organizations). To tell ya the truth, I'm pretty happy with where they've landed in .NET v2, although in 20/20 hindsight of course they could have got there by a less circuitous route. The point is to get the diverse opinions and real data pulled together to guide us going forward.

As for black hole projects, remember that XQuery is a bit a black hole project at W3C. I think everyone involved is very focused on getting that project past the event horizon. So, as much as lots of people could benefit from early support for the XQuery or XSLT drafts by MS and other big vendors, remember that this was more or less a disaster in XSLT 1 days. The whole point of standards is, uhh, standardization and if "standards" support creates fragmentation, that's probably not in anyone's interest. I think the SQL Server folks are doing the right thing by focusing on the subset of the XQuery draft that hits the 80:20 point.

But you hit it right on the head - my conception of the job is to help get the information exchanged that will allow both MS and ordinary .NET XML developers to work better, and better together. I hope the new blogs help "ordinary .NET XML devs" let us know what your challenges and thoughts are.