February 2005 Archives

Dan Wahlin starts online video series on using XML APIs in the .NET framework. Watch the first video segment devoted to XmlDocument class here.

This video segment demonstrates some XmlDocument class fundamentals including how the Document Object Model (DOM) works, parsing RSS feeds, filtering with XPath, and editing XML.

On XmlBookmarkReader

| 4 Comments | No TrackBacks |

Helena Kupkova, known before by FastXML (she claimed it's 5x faster than MSXML), now working for Microsoft on XmlReader and who's behind amazing "Microsoft XML Diff and Patch 1.0" tool, has published an article at MSDN XML Dev Center called "XML Reader with Bookmarks".

Microsoft Word as XSL-FO visual editor?

| 6 Comments | 6 TrackBacks |

That's interesting - MSDN has published "Transforming Word Documents into the XSL-FO Format" article by Alexei Gagarinov (RenderX) and Mark Iverson (Microsoft). The article introduces WordprocessingML and XSL-FO vocabularies and shows how to transform Word documents to into XSL-FO using developed by RenderX Word2FO.xsl stylesheet. That stylesheet is available in the article's download and supports rich enough but currently a bit limited subset of WordprocessingML/XSL-FO features, btw it does support images.

That's quite unusual for Microsoft to even mention XSL-FO, usually they just ignore it.

Another interesting tidbit. As Kevin Brown of RenderX told me in a private mail (I think I can quote him):

The style sheets and extra tools are available for download through this link. We will be creating a new website section for them and for suggestions for improving them. This coupled with the Microsoft XSL tool we have been using makes a decent environment for using Word as an XSL Designer for XSL FO applications.
Hmm, good move, I like it. XSL-FO desperately needs visual designer. Antenna House is developing something called "XSL Report Designer", to be released really soon, but who need it if you can use old good Word? And also Antenna sells WordMLToFO Stylesheet for just $980. That's not a price that can make a technology really popular, we need a cheap (preferably free) Word to XSL-FO conversion, that's gonna boost XSL-FO as a technology.

You can try a trial of some PDF to Word software to see if taking your documents and converting PDF to Word will make things more easily formatted than before the PDF conversion helped you to do a convert PDF to Word operation.

W3C has updated 9 XQuery, XPath and XSLT Working Drafts and introduced a brand new, sort of milestone one - "XQuery Update Facility Requirements":

This document describes the requirements for the XQuery Update Facility. [XQuery 1.0] provides queries, but has no support for adding new values or changing existing values. The XML Query Working Group intends to add support for updates in a future version of XQuery.
So instead of polishing existing XQuery/XPath2/XSLT2 drafts to deliver finally something stable, they have started thinking about XQuery Update. Great. Now chances are 2006 as XQuery Recommendation publishing year is a way too optimistic.

As a matter of interest here are how XQuery and XSLT2 are positioned now:

XML Query is an XML-aware programming language that can be optimized to run database-style searches, queries and joins over collections of documents, databases and XML or object repositories.
XSLT 2 allows transformation of XML documents and non-XML data into other documents.
(Emphasized by me).

7 years of XML

| 2 Comments | 2 TrackBacks |

It's XML's birthday today - the very first XML 1.0 Recommendation has been published 10 February 1998 - 7 years ago. That's a mature technology which you can find everywhere, because XML just works. And it's still extremely hot!

Sincere congratulations to the XML 1.0 fathers: Tim Bray, Jean Paoli and C. M. Sperberg-McQueen!

Here is another XML history related article "Happy Birthday, XML!" (2003) by Dave Hollander and C. M. Sperberg-McQueen (the image above is from the article, © W3C).

IBM is giving away 2000 free vouchers, applicable to selected WebSphere and XML certification tests.

To qualify for a voucher, a candidate is required to be one of the first people to pass the aligning Pre-assessment/Sample Test between January 1, 2005 (12:00 a.m. Eastern Time) and April 30, 2005 (11:59 p.m. Eastern Time).
Each Pre-assessment/Sample Test costs $10 USD, so one can get IBM certification for just $10.

So I did this week. The pre-assessment test is done online, boring. Then in a couple of days I received a voucher for a real certification test. I've got a certification center just 500 meters from my work, so next day I went to take a test. It's Test 141, "IBM Certified Solution Developer - XML and Related Technologies". 57 multiple-choice questions, 90 minutes, 58% to pass. XML fundamentals, XSLT, XPath, XML Schema, DTD, DOM, SAX, Web Services, I even got one question on XSL-FO, nice. Well, despite no preparation and quite rusty Java XML skills I passed with 94%.

So it works and they're still sending free vouchers. Go for it you want to be IBM Certified Solution Developer or just looking for some entertainment.

Upgrading... Done

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks |

Well, I must admit it wasn't a smooth upgrade neither. Finally I had to remove all posts, migrate to MT 3.15 and MySQL as a backend and then to reimport all posts in a way they all get the same entry_id (to keep backwards compatibility with the archives).

I'm going to upgrade my blog's MovableType engine to 3.15. I'm full of hopes it helps with damn comment spam.

I'm glad to announce version 1.5 of the nxslt.exe - .NET XSLT command line utility.

Turning a page

| No TrackBacks |

I turned some sort of a page in my life and now I'm starting a new one. Still tabula rasa, but some outlines are clearly visible.

I'm going to launch a new site, xmllab.net, which I see as a better place for my blog (nobody's able to pronounce tkachenko.com anyway), for innovations and experiments with XML technologies aimed to create some new value for XML developers and users, for distributing XML tools both free and commercial ones, for hosting XML related information etc. Well, XML lab, you get an idea. Somehow I feel I need to be more tool oriented and to concentrate my efforts to be more productive.

I'm going to be more productive in writing too. I published only two articles last year - too bad, I promise at least five this year. I'm a slow writer because I'm perfectionist and can spend a day on a single paragraph. Come on, that's not a literature, that's technical stuff, which is different.

Does this mean I will be spending less time in newsgroups and forums from now on? Possibly but not likely.

I bought shiny new Canon S70 camera (yeah, after Tim Bray's words). Quite impressive camera. So go rebuild my photo gallery, I'll need it soon.