"It really was a nice event. Interesting people, superior food, edge-technology discussions, and an excuse to go hike to the crater on Mt. St. Helens !!!!" - Ray Schraff, Hyland Software

"The first day of the Applied XML Developers Conference has ended, and I am trying to digest the extreme amount of information that has been bulk-loaded into my brain via PowerPoint. I'm really impressed with my fellow attendees -- everyone here is very intelligent and passionate about technology." - Steve Maine ( BTW: I recommend reading Steve's overview of the conference with added insight to each of the talks )

If you are an XML or Web Services zealot, you should think twice about missing this conference next year. At the end of the conference I did a quick poll to find out what types of developers attended the XML DevCon. Of the 150 attendees, there was an excellent split of industry developers with a common thread of XML and Web services development. Presentation topics covered applications using XML and Web services a multitude of different platforms and technologies including mobile phones, embedded devices, traditional Web clients, Smart Clients, and more. Chris stuck to his foundation for the conference - cross industry, quality content from folks that do REAL work. For the cost, the quality of training was awesome. On top of it all, there was great swag given away -- DevelopMentor gave out free training courses, both O'Reily and Addison Wesley provided a series of excellent books, Newsgator folks gave free copies of their RSS reader, Microsoft provided the T-Shirts and laptop mice, and other great swag.

Talk Summaries:

Sam Ruby - Was sorely missed. Unrealistic travel conditions deterred him from attending.

Dave Winer keynoted on the need for simplicity and the fact that it is the developers responsibility to empower the end-user. "It would be nice if interop did not means "works with MS" or "works with IBM" as the vendors would like it. XML is not about this, it is about the world working together."

"User's don't care how it works, but we do because we are the ones that make it work" - Chris Sells

Don Box's keynote was one of his best yet and, as always, left us with a series of hilarious quotes. His keynote was based on the first chapter of his latest book in the works.

- In Brad Cox's book we learned that Objects and OO was good and its promise to the world was the idea of a software based integrated circuits. CPUs have the possibility of being replaced because unlike ICs, they are not soldered to the motherboard due to rapid evolution and price churn. Most people in the field don't replace the CPU in their computer. Unfortunately, Objects and OO has its idea of software based Integrated Circuits has only been of limited value. There are some large scale libraries that are re-used such as the Microsoft Foundation Class Library. But, on the whole, most class libraries are specific to a given project. The time required to make the abstractions generally useful make it too expensive to make useful libraries of re-usable components. Often times, the resulting library requires extensive customization when integrating into a system that it was not originally designed for.

- Abstraction is cheap when doing objects. When building systems out of software, that abstraction is expensive. OO is a great metaphor when you are soldering to lower manufacturing costs and helps with managing complexity; however, objects were not meant for field replacement.

- Traditional contract languages such as IDL make for brittle systems.

- Services assume high-latency/low-fidelity. Services share schemas and contracts but not types.

- The same data can have multiple corresponding schemas. Schema is not an authoritative resource that defines what the XML looks like. Schemas are relative, they are not the absolute truth. What I can measure, what I can observe, what I can do machine verification with is the absolute truth.

Other key points:

- The sweet spot for writing good specification is the 8th grade reading level

- Design by standards body results in a train wreck of a specification... this is hugely demonstrated by XML Schema, especially when you get a group of people that all think they are building something different.

- SOAP's primary advantage is when routing is introduced.

Final Comments:

- SOAP shifts focus from types and abstractions to schemas and contracts (not types)

- Objects are to services what ICs are to devices

- Industry wide momentum will improve current SO tools and platforms

- Simplicity and minimalism rule the day

Is this a quote from Abraham Lincoln - "I didn't have time to write you a short note, so I wrote you this long one."

Don XML spoke on SVG as a declarative XML standard for graphics and user interfaces. Patrick Caudwell later stated that after experiencing SVG they decided against it, but he did not provide the reasoning to the group as a whole.

Ted Neward spoke on Web Services support in the upcoming release of J2EE 1.4.

- J2EE and EJB spec 2.1 defaults to rpc/encoded on the wire.

- SOAP v1.2 not in the spec today

- JWSDL not in the spec today

- There is a possibility that the simplicity of JAX-RPC will result in Java developers communicating to distributed Java systems via Web Services in place of RMI

Keithba spoke on different types of SOAP Messaging. Realtime, he built a message-based heckling application with Web Services Enhancements 2.0 Tech Preview. The audience was very responsive and immediately started the heckling!

Ken Levydemoed next generation XML, XSLT, and Schema (XSD, DTD) tools for Visual Studio.NET. The audience was drooling.... As a kudos to the attendees, we will see what we can do to get you early access bits.

Jeff Barr kenoted on Amazon's Web services technologies. I visited with Amazon earlier this year, so I tuned out to work during this talk. Chris has a great summary of the talk.

Rich Saltz - presented on security, one of my favorite topics, and unfortunately I had to leave the room for a conference call :(

Steve Loughran

- WSE has problems with large attachments because it saves everything in memory

- Was not happy with the WSDL tools he investigated in the marketplace and ended up authoring his from scratch.

- Feels the proposed SwA addendum still has problems because of the way the images are inlined and feels that it is inevitable that the XML spec be modified directly to address the binary problem. XML needs to be extended so that you can have a large piece of binary data with a length id. Stated that he was not against base64 encoded, but it wont work because the implementations can't support it when the binary images are large.

- How long will SOAP 1.x and WSDL 1.x be relevant? I will be using both of these for 5 years

In summary: It is both sensible and feasibile to use SOAP ( his talk was related to embedded devices in HP printers) and we need a better way to send in binary data with XML

"I feel toolkits are good, home rolled HTTP isn't good" - winer

Christorpher Dix - We NEED WSDL tools! Showed us some tools that he was developing to solve the need. Graphical representation of Web services -- too cool.

Brian Jepson demonstrated google searches and reading of Web logs along with the corresponding implementation on a cell phone.

Tim Ewald talked about schema and contracts. Schemas are templates for you XML Messages. XSD is not a universal type system, rather a template or pattern language.

Aaron Skonnard spoke on business logic. We learned that XSD by itself is too simplistic for declaring complex business patterns/logic. A hybrid of both XSD and XPath queries can make for a strong business rules assertion validation engine. Aaron leveraged .NET attributing to apply business rules to SOAP messages being deserialized into the C# object model. Aaron co-authored an article on this in MSDN magazine... check it out, it is well worth the read.

Patrick Cauldwell gave one of my favorite talks. Web services were selected over a series of other technologies to monitor devices for power plants.

In my former life, we used to buy air from one company and sell it to another -- this was the way of the dot com. It is nice to be building real systems today that actually save peoples lives. (paraphrased)

Said that he was excited about WSE v2.0 and was looking forward to hardware that supports WS-Security which Rich Saltz claims to sell.

In Conclusion:

Chris Sells, Sarah Jamieson, Bill Williams of DevelopMentor, and I helped to put the show together. Working with Chris to continue his tradition of the Sells Brothers conference ended up being a lot more work than I had originally anticipated, but it was well worth the added energies. Great Job you guys, you are a great team to work. Timing could not have been more hectic for me: Tech ED US, Europe, Catalyst, and our MS internal training conference MTB/MGB were all right in the same timeframe, not to mention the most important and time-consuming event, the WSE v2.0 tech preview product launch. I found that I was working too much while I was listening to the talks. Next year we will try and plan the dates farther ahead of time and I am definately going to leave my laptop at home so I get the most out of the conference (yeah right!).

I am looking forward to next year... its amazing to see the number of killer applications being built with XML and Web services. I will use this conference as a metric for major industry momentum.

Post Conference:

After the event, Don Smith and I headed to the Oregon Coast on the little trek of camping and surfing. It was horrible! I do not recommend that you go (trying to keep the tourist levels tolerable ;). The waves were a little choppy due to a small storm front that came in. Apparently whilst we were listing to Jeff Barr getting excited about the possibility of sharing a piece of Amazon's business model, Oregonian Surfers were having one of the best sessions of the year. After the first day of surfing we went to Morris's Fireside restaurant (note: there was no fire to sit by but they do have excellent crab cocktail) and we camped out for 4 hours like two super geeks playing around with an ad hoc wireless networks and doing a bit of extreme programming. At the end of the night, one of the waitresses actually kicked us out... oops.

We felt the experience was so awesome that next year, if the Dev Con happens to be in Oregon , we should some planning ahead of time to get a load of you geeks out to the coast for some sun, rain (hey it is the Pacific Northwest), fresh air, and camping (with computers ;). It would be hilarious to go back to that restaurant with about 15 people and pull out laptops just to see the expressions on their faces!