XML 7: Markup conferences. A look at the biggies.

For a relatively young technology, XML has already garnered a great deal of support from the Internet user community. This is reflected by the number of related events now entered in the IT calendar

For a technology still very much in its infancy, XML (and its related markup languages) is understandably receiving a great deal of attention on the conference and exhibition circuit. Not only are specialist XML technology areas becoming commonplace at the largest tech shows on the IT calendar, such as Networld+Interop, Comdex and CeBit, a great number of specialist exhibitions have sprung up over the last three years.

Fittingly in this, the tenth anniversary of the World Wide Web, even if we ignore the smaller shows and more localised efforts, there are still seventeen major meets specifically tailored towards XML over the next twelve months.

  • Software Development 99 East, November 8-13, 1999, Washington D.C.

  • XML One Fall 99, November 8-11, 1999, Santa Clara, CA

  • XML '99 December 6-9, 1999, Philadelphia PA

  • Markup Technologies '99 Conference December 5-9, 1999, Philadelphia

  • Web Design 2000, February 7-9, 2000, Atlanta

  • XTech '2000, February 27-March 2, San Jose

  • Software Development 2000 West, March 20-24, 2000, San Jose

  • Sixteenth International Unicode Conference, Boston, March 27-30, 2000

  • The Ninth International World Wide Web Conference, May 15-19, 2000, Amsterdam

  • DL 2000: Fifth ACM Conference on Digital Libraries, June 3-6 2000, Texas

  • XML Europe 2000, June 12-16, Paris

  • Web Design World 2000, July 17-21, 2000, Seattle, Washington

  • MetaStructures, August 14-16, 2000, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

  • XML Developers Conference, August 17-18, 2000, Montreal, Quebec

  • Internet World Expo, October 25-27, 2000, New York City

  • XML 2000/Markup Technologies 2000, December 3-7, Washington D.C.

XML '99 in Philadelphia during the first week of December is the undisputed biggy for XML developers, vendors, observers and users. Subtitled "Enabling Business Innovation on the Web", this year's show intends to focus on ebusiness, publishing with XML, web graphics, content/data management, XML applications, core standards, and XML vocabularies.

GCA, the organisers of XML '99 are keen that attendees aren't blinded with science, and have arranged tutorials for newcomers to XML, as well as an independent analyst panel -- ideal for sceptical Brits abroad. Keynotes on offer will include words of enlightenment from National Semiconductor, SAP and Xerox among others, with web standard updates outlined by the W3C, GCA, OASIS and perhaps most interestingly, Microsoft's BizTalk venture.

MarkupTechnologies '99 follows up immediately in the same venue December 7-9th, although details remain a little sketchy at this stage.

If your love of XML doesn't quite extend to a trip across the Atlantic, there is plenty on offer for the European user. Apart from comprehensive web-coverage of the majority of the major US exhibitions and key-notes, both London and Paris host substantial showcases. Unfortunately one of the most popular, XML One Europe has already passed us by, held in Westminster in the first week of October. Promisingly, the technical conference offered delegates 37 sessions focusing on staying ahead of the competition through the adoption of XML, as well as an expo. The likes of Oracle, CSW Informatics, Chrystal Software, Object Design, Stilo technology and SoftQuad debuted development suites, ecommerce architectures, word processors, back-end systems, document authoring tools and directory services all based-around the XML specifications.

XML 1.0 moves to California in November, but for UK and European users it is nice to see that the majority of vendors at the US show chose to debut at London rather than wait for the perhaps more prestigious and high-profile silicon valley parade.

The conferences mentioned above represent a small slice of the hands-on resources now available for the budding XML geek. One of the most positive aspects of each show seems to be a willingness to remain vendor neutral and hype-free in an attempt to spread the word about XML without making unlikely claims for the markup language. The emphasis seems to be on the practical benefits of deploying an HTML replacement or enhancement, while exploring future possibilities for tools and standards.

Suck it and see. We'd love to hear your feedback on what's hot and what's not on the blossoming XML circuit.

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