Sunday, May 29, 2005

XTech Browser Tech Dinner

Last Wednesday I organized a dinner for speakers at the the XTech conference in Amsterdam: we rented a boat to cruise through the Amsterdam canals. It was an interesting group of people: many Mozilla developers, people from Opera, and other browser experts such as Peter-Paul Koch. It was a lot of fun to talk to all these people. At Backbase we use the browser for everything we do, and we now had the opportunity to speak to the core developers of Mozilla and Opera. It is good to know these people in person: we were able to discuss some Firefox 1.1 issues with the engineers who are working on it. Very useful for both parties.

During the dinner I expected quite a bit of discussion about WHAT WG, XForms and the forms product of Backbase. We didn't really discuss that, maybe also because Steven Pemberton and Micah Dubinko from the XForms camp couldn't make it. So we mainly had WHAT WG people onboard, like initiator Ian Hickson, and contributor Anne van Kesteren. The next day on XTech Steven and Ian had adjacent presentations, and it became clear that both groups have their own proponents, and that the reconciliation as suggested by Micah will probably not happen anytime soon. At Backbase we have a forms model that is similar to XForms, with pure declarative markup, and focus on XML technologies such as XPath. So until a leading standard arises, it's probably best to stick to our own forms model.

At Backbase we have a new release upcoming, 3.0, and we've also demoed it during the dinner. Many people liked it, and can give it a try themselves with the free Community Edition. We also had the first builds with Opera 8 support, which pleased the Opera people, obviously.

It was also interesting to hear the discussions about the proposed new calendar plug-in for Thunderbird, Lightning: there is definitely a drive at the Mozilla team to provide a viable alternative for Outlook as soon as possible. I'd love to start using it at Backbase: together with Hula it would make a great alternative for Exchange, which we are now considering.

There was also some negative sentiment about Microsoft: not surprising with people like Håkon Wium Lie present :-). Nevertheless, most people who browse the web are still using Microsoft's Internet Explorer, so at Backbase we are maintaining a good relationship with Microsoft. And the IE7 initiative is a good development for sure, although the Avalon/XAML plans raise suspicions that Microsoft would rather do away with the Web as we know it today (not good, obviously).

I've uploaded pictures of the event to Flickr.


Blogger Grauw said...

I and Menno talked with the Microsoft guy (Rob Relyea) who did the XAML presentation for a bit, and he left me with the impression that XAML’s main target is to be a platform for defining Windows software user interfaces in a declarative way, for which it is pretty good I think - at least certainly an improvement in all aspects over the current methods.

But, I have the impression that getting XAML on the web isn’t really a big thing for Microsoft aside from that it’s ‘just possible’ (like XUL on the web is as well). It isn’t a main design goal for XAML, or at least it doesn’t seem to me, and I think that’s a good thing. XAML may work very well on the Windows desktop, but the web needs open standards. The web being cross-platform (be it either on MacOS or Windows 98) is one of its key attractive points.

By the way - that article, I’ve read it before. It raises some good points.


1:16 PM  

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