Markup Extremists

by Simon St. Laurent

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While I'm packing my bags for this week's O'Reilly Open Source Conference, where I'm chairing the XML track, I'm also looking forward to a very different kind of conference, Extreme Markup Languages in August. OSCON, at least on the XML side, is mostly about how developers can apply XML technologies, while Extreme has a heavy dose of how developers can create XML (and other markup) technologies.

Some of the same people will be at both events, and they're pretty consistently my key summer conferences, but they're quite different. OSCON is largely about how to do things with information. Its focus is on programmers and programming, while the focus at Extreme is much on information and information representation.

XML and markup generally are odd beasts in the world of computing. XML is not a programming language. You can't do anything with XML itself, though you can certainly use XML as a key component in getting things done. Instead of defining things with a focus on particular kinds of manipulation (a good OOP strategy), markup focuses on structuring and labeling things in ways that they can be found and shared by a lot of different applications. There's much more attention paid to the nature of the underlying information than to what we want to do with that today.

Last year, this conference-filled period was easily my most productive hacking time. I'll report back on what I manage to accomplish this year.

Do markup and programming have much in common?