Conference Season approaching

By Michael Kay on March 22, 2006 at 02:18p.m.

Conferences, like London buses, always seem to come in clusters. I've just been pausing for breath to see what I'm committed to...

XTech in Amsterdam is a little later this year: May 16-19. I offered a paper on XML-based application architecture, which was accepted: that means I've now got to write it! My plan is to develop the theme of the workflow article published on the Stylus Studio web site. I bumped into Erik Bruchez of Orbeon in Edinburgh last week (we share a consulting client) and it was good to get an update on the new W3C standards initiative in the area of pipeline processing languages - an area that I think holds great promise for the future. I'm looking forward to XTech - they seem to have a successful formula, and most importantly, it's successful because the right people are there.

That's closely followed by WWW 2006 in Edinburgh from 23-26 May (I should get myself a permanent home there...). For some reason I haven't been on the WWWnnnn circuit for a long time. I wasn't expecting to be there but I've been invited to take part in a session that's being put together on W3C activity, so it will be interesting to see how the event shapes up.

Next is a weekend conference in Prague, June 17-18. I was there last year; a small-scale event with a relaxed ambience and a mainly local audience. I've accepted an invitation to speak and now have to make a decision what to speak about - should I adapt existing material (less work) or try to put together something new (more interesting)? Most of the other speakers have submitted their abstracts so I have the luxury of choosing a topic that complements what others are saying. Last year I took the family with me for the weekend, it's a lovely place for a short break except for the embarrassment of the hordes of English stag-party visitors who are only there to see how much cheap beer they can drink.

The next week we have W3C working group meetings in Paris. I don't know how it happened, but by chance this is turning into a European season.

Then on June 30th is the XQuery conference XIME-P. This has a slightly academic flavour but it's no bad thing to keep in touch with what the researchers are doing, they occasionally have some good ideas. One of the attractive things about the XML field is that collaboration between academia and industry seems to be quite good: in the database field, where I used to work, it was rare to find an academic and a user at the same conference. Logistically this one will be tough, it's a single day in Chicago, but it will have been the first trip to the US since January: perhaps I can organize some other useful visits around it. I've submitted a paper for the conference (in the academic tradition this is the sort of event where papers are submitted and scrutinized, a complete contrast with an event like Prague where the aim is to assemble an interesting group of speakers and then ask them what they would like to talk about). I'm on the programme committee but there's nothing sleazy about this, one doesn't get to vote on one's own paper! It's quite a good discipline writing this kind of paper occasionally, though I found it very hard to keep to the limit of six pages.

Finally (for this season!) and closer to home is the Oxford Summer School, where I will once again be talking about XSLT 2.0. A bit like the Prague event, this has a very pleasant social atmosphere, especially if the sun shines; but it lasts a bit longer so when you come in on the last day you get the impression of a strong sense of bonding that has taken place over the week. My main problem in planning this event is that it's essentially a teaching event rather than a conference, and it's hard to work out what the right starting point for the students is: some are very new to XML, some are coming because they got a lot out of it last year and want to build on that. I think I'm a bit inclined to make the mistake of pitching too high; but Bob du Charme does the introductory stuff very well and perhaps the combination means there is something for everyone. Come to think of it, the date's been in my diary for a while but I need to confirm with the organisers...