December 2005 Archives

First XML Podcast

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Ok, this is gonna be the firrst podcast I want to subscribe to. It's "A Weekly XML Industry Podcast Hosted by Kurt Cagle and M. David Peterson". First real pilot segment can be found here. It's about OASIS Open Document and Microsoft's Open XML formats.

The podcast feed is here. Subscribed.

Ignore this post

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MSXML6 SDK documentation online

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MSXML6 SDK documentation is online now. In fact it's "multi-version" documentation, which covers MSXML3 through MSXML6.

So, what's new in MSXML6? Looks like it's security tightening, XML Schema support improvements and removals:

What's New in MSXML 6.0
MSXML 6.0 shipped with SQL Server 2005. It also shipped as a Web release. The following is a high-level summary of features that were introduced with MSXML 6.0.
  • Security

    A number of enhancements have been made to MSXML 6.0 to eliminate security threats. Additionally, some features that are insecure, such as DTDs and inline schemas, have been turned off by default. For more information, see MSXML Security Overview.
  • XDR Schema Support Removed

    XML Data Reduced (XDR) schema support has been removed. For more information, see Removal of XDR Schema Support.
  • Improvements in XSD Standards Compliance

    MSXML 6.0 has improved XSD schema standards compliance. For more information, see Improvements in XSD Standards Compliance.
  • Improvements in Schema Cache Behavior

    MSXML 6.0 has changed the behavior of the XSD schema cache. The new version is less ambiguous when there are name collisions. For more information, see Improvements in Schema Cache Behavior.
  • XML Digital Signature Removed

    MSXML 6.0 removed support for XML digital signatures. For more information, see XML Digital Signatures.
  • Other Changes in MSXML 6.0

    There are a number of other changes in MSXML 6.0. A few of the changes may require modifications to applications. For more information, see Changes in MSXML 6.0.

It's a pity support for the XML Digital Signature was removed. It was implemented for Office and most likely Microsoft doesn't want a burden of supporting it for all MSXML users. Another sad fact is an obvious fork of MSXML - MSXML5 is actually "MSXML 5.0 for Microsoft Office Applications", not available as a separate download. That was probably not a good idea.

The Raise of XSLT Compilation

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Slowly, gradually and with not much loud buzz both modern managed platforms - Java and .NET have switched to compiling XSLT implementations by default. First Java 5.0 made compiling Apache XSLTC processor a default transformer in JAXP 1.3 (instead of interpreting Apache XALAN). Then Microsoft released .NET 2.0 with new XSLT implementation - XslCompiledTransform replacing now obsolete XslTransform (guess what - interpreting one). XSLTC compiles XSLT into Java bytecode just like Java compiler, while XslCompiledTransform compiles XSLT into Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) just like C# or VB compiler. The similarity is striking. Does it mean the era of interpreting XSLT processors is over and XSLT compilation is the future?

RSSBandit users who are interested in Russian localization were probably disapointed when found no Russian language support in the Nightcrawler release. Sorry about that, I was too late for the deadline. Good news is that RSS Bandit bugfix release with Russian localization is expected really soon - most likely before Christmas.

This is surprisingly cool news - Microsoft RSS Team decided to adopt this orange RSS feed icon used in Firefox to be used in IE7 too. The guys from Mozilla happily allowed the usage of the icon. Here is what Jane from Microsoft RSS team writes:

I’m excited to announce that we’re adopting the icon used in Firefox. John and Chris were very enthusiastic about allowing us (and anyone in the community) to use their icon. This isn’t the first time that we’ve worked with the Mozilla team to exchange ideas and encourage consistency between browsers, and we’re sure it won’t be the last.

We’ll be using the icon in the IE7 command bar whenever a page has a feed associated with it, and we’ll also use it in other places in the browser whenever we need a visual to represent RSS and feeds. Look for more details on the look and feel of IE7 when we post the public pre-release build next year.

By the way, this is sort of a milestone for the Mvp.Xml project - Microsoft has released Guidance Automation Toolkit (GAT) and Guidance Automation Extensions (GAX) for Visual Studio 2005 which uses and includes recently released Mvp.Xml library v2.0, particularly our XInclude implementation.

This is the first Microsoft product using XInclude via Mvp.Xml library. Hope not the last one, way to go guys. I truly hope to see one day Microsoft Biztalk release including our EXSLT implementation.

As a matter of interest - Mvp.Xml project is an open-source project hosted at SourceForge, led by Microsoft MVPs and supplementing XML processing functionality in .NET. We currently provide .NET implementations of EXSLT, XML Base, XInclude, XPointer as well as a unique set of utility classes and tools making XML programming in .NET platform easier, more productive and effective. Microsoft has licensed the Mvp.Xml project and has rights to use and distribute our code base.

In the latest article "Schema-Aware Queries and Stylesheets" Michael Kay explaines how useful XML Schema-awareness is for XQuery queries and XSLT stylesheets.

Zvon's XSLT 2.0 tutorial

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Miloslav Nic has announced the first snapshot of XSLT 2.0 tutorial at Zvon. Good stuff. I remember 5 year ago I was learning XSLT 1.0 using Zvon's tutorial...

Dare thinks I'm making fruitless noise asking people if they need XSLT 2.0:

I'm not sure how an informal survey in a blog would convince Microsoft one way or the other about implementing a technology. A business case to convince a product team to do something usually involves showing them that they will lose or gain significant marketshare or revenue by making a technology choice. A handful of XML geeks who want to see the latest and greatest XML specs implemented by Microsoft does not a business case make.
Well Dare you underestimate the power of geeks and blogs :) Of course I'm not making a busines case. I'm looking for real world XSLT2 business cases (and not without results btw) trying to help Microsoft XML Team. I can't disclose more, but believe me guys we really can help now with such obviousboring stuff like real world scenarios for XSLT2.

Then he comes with some good advice:

My advice to Oleg, if you want to see XSLT 2.0 in the .NET Framework then gather some like minded souls and build it yourself. Efforts like the MVP.XML library for the .NET Framework shows that there are a bunch of talented developers building cool enhancements to the basic XML story Microsoft provides in the .NET Framework.
First of all as one of developers who runs Mvp.Xml project I should say that "a bunch" is a big overstatement here. Unfortunately only a really handful people are willing/have a chance to contribute to the project. Actually now, 3 years after I switched to .NET I'm pretty much pessimistic about open-source .NET projects altogether. There is something with people's attitude, it's different from that one in Java or linux world. And so I'm also kinda pessimistic about community developed .NET XSLT2 as I know the field. But that's of course my backup plan in any case.

Also I found interesting some comments made to Dare's post. Take a look.

And my personal take is similar to the one expressed by Mike Champion: Microsoft will implement XSLT2 anyway. The question is only when.

I run into this article "Harnessing the BackPack API" by Michael K. Campbell in the new and very cool "XML 4 Fun" column at MSDN. The article is otherwise brilliant and really fun, but XML processing code samples are not so good. It's actually a great collection of XML processing antipatterns. Let's see.

Moving along business cases Microsoft seeks to implement XSLT 2.0 I'm trying to gather some opinion statistics amongs developers working with XML and XSLT. So I'm holding this survey at the XML Lab site:

Would you like to have XSLT 2.0 implementation in the .NET Framework?

The possible answers are:

  • Yes, I need XSLT 2.0
  • Yes, that would be nice to have
  • No, continue improving XSLT 1.0 impl instead
  • No, XSLT 1.0 is enough for me
Vote now and get a chance to win the "XSLT 2.0" book by Mike Kay!

When the survey ends (probably in a month or so) one lucky survey taker from whatever part of the world choosen randomly will get the book.

Note: you have to be registered on the Xml Lab site to vote. Sorry, but I need some simple way to identify the winner. Registration is simple and public - no email verification or something like, just fill in your name, password and email, get registered and then vote.

Take your chance to influence Microsoft's decision on XSLT 2.0 and win XSLT 2.0 book!

Microsoft's Exchange 2007 hosting software package is the main tool of Exchange email outsourcing as many companies choose to use, since Microsoft Exchange requires you to manage or pay for a Microsoft Exchange server and sometimes outsourcing is the cheaper choice.

I'm glad to announce first release of the eXml - extended ASP.NET Xml Web Server Control.

eXml logoeXml is a free open-source ASP.NET 2.0 Web server control extending and improving standard ASP.NET XML Web server control. eXml Web server control uses new .NET 2.0 XSLT processor - XslCompiledTransform class to perform XSL transformations thus providing in average 400% performance boost and improved standard compliance. Additionally eXml Web server control provides built-in support for 70+ EXSLT extension functions, XML Inclusions (XInclude) 1.0, friendly XML rendering, <?xml-stylesheet?> XML processng instruction, embedded stylesheets and conditional whitespace stripping.

eXml Download | eXml Documentaion | eXml Forum


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A business case for XSLT 2.0?

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If you are using XSLT and you think that XSLT 2.0 would provide you some real benefits, please drop a line of comment with a short explanation pleeeease. I'm collecting some arguments for XSLT 2.0, some real world scenarios that are hard with XSLT 1.0, some business cases when XSLT 2.0 would provide an additional value. That's really important if we want to have more than a single XSLT 2.0 implementation...

PS. Of course I've read Kurt's "The Business Case for XSLT 2.0 " already.

Update: I failed to stress it enough that it's not me who needs such kind of arguments. We have sort of unique chance to persuade one of software giants (guess which one) to support XSLT 2.0 now.

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nxslt v2.0 released

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nxslt v2.0 (aka nxslt2) is available for download. This is first nxslt release for .NET 2.0.

nxslt is a free feature-rich command line utility that allows to perform XSL Transformations (XSLT) using .NET Framework 2.0 XSLT implementation - System.Xml.Xsl.XslCompiledTransform class. nxslt is compatible with Microsoft's MSXSL.EXE tool and additionally supports XInclude 1.0, 70+ EXSLT and EXSLT.NET extension functions, multioutput, embedded stylesheets, custom XmlResolvers and custom extension functions, pretty printing etc etc etc.

nxslt2 documentation | Download nxslt2