Rant : "Microsoft is compliant with the XSL spec"
I thought I'd take the time to contribute my M$ rant to the XSL list - hopefully someone in the great monopoly may even take notice (yeah right.) Apologies to Jonathan Marsh and colleagues - this is not aimed at you - but at the M$ marketing machine and M$'s priorities. I recently had the pleasure of attending the "XML Action" seminar in Auckland, New Zealand, where I was going to find out about "... essential XML topics, such as the XML Data Model, XML Object Model (DOM), and XML Data Schemas, as well as techniques for using XML on the client and on the server will be presented. Finally, the Microsoft initiatives and current implementations for XML technologies will be demonstrated, and illustrated with code examples." http://www.microsoft.com/nz/developers/events/msdnDescriptions.stm#xml (I think the page at that URL has changed - it originally mentioned XSL and its uses specifically). In the first session I sat through a presentation on "cross-platform" DOM where you can call methods like loadXML(), selectNodes(), and of course transformNode(). I was shown cool things like embedding XML data islands with <xml> tags ("no more <object> tags"), and table-binding (although we were later shown how to construct the same table with XSLT). When I asked, I was assured that this conformed to the HTML spec. This, after showing an HTML 4 document with no DOCTYPE declaration, and a <script> element after the <html> element was closed. I'm reasonably sure I recognised some examples that I received with the Datachannel parser (hands up who found a bug in that) over a year ago. Between the sessions, anticipating a similar treatment to "XSL", I approached the presenter and asked him if he'd mind stating, during the upcoming session, which parts were pure XSLT and which were M$XSL. I was assured that he'd only be presenting things that conformed to the "draft". I mentioned that XSLT had been a recommendation for about 6 months, which was news to him, and also told him there had been a lot of discussion on this esteemed list about why M$ has largely ignored the spec, but is happy to implement their own extensions first. Understandably, I was received somewhat bemusedly. Anyway, the "XSL" session got underway with a few simple examples, all of which had the wrong namespace. And sure, many of the XML documents had no <?xml ...?> declaration. I could live with that, most of the people there probably aren't at the bleeding edge, like this list's suscribers. Then we got on to the more complicated examples and things like <xsl:define-template-set> and <xsl:for-each order-by="+category;+title"> started popping up. The presenter mentioned that, indeed, there had been some debate about M$'s compliance to the spec (impressive memory) but as far as he knew "Microsoft is compliant with the XSL spec". It was about at this point, that I buried my head in my hands and stopped taking notes. Actually the highlight of the seminar was when someone asked what the difference between XML-Schema and DTDs was. He explained this well. The next question was, where is the specification for DTDs? The answer: "I don't know." I was reasonably happy to sit back and not interrupt the seminar - it would be unfair to the everyone else. But it really irks me that someone can present so much disinformation to 80-100 keen XML developers in one sitting. Most people can cope with a few errors in the examples, but being told at every step of the way that everything is "cross-platform" or "cross-browser" or "compliant with the spec", which was 90% of the time just plain wrong, really rips my nightie (colloquial NZ - you get the idea). What can one actually do to make a difference? I cornered the presenter again afterwards and handed him a scribbled list of some of his mistakes, which he accepted quite graciously. That's all I've been able to think of so far. I'm now considering forwarding this message to him. Well, I feel better now, having shared that with someone. Comments and pro-M$ flames welcome. -- Warren Hedley Department of Engineering Science Auckland University New Zealand XSL-List info and archive: http://www.mulberrytech.com/xsl/xsl-list
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