One of my fellow co-workers just informed me that today is the 7th birthday of XML.  Sure enough, 7 years ago today is the date on the first XML 1.0 Specification.  Ah, and how far we've all come since then.
 
7 years ago I was most of the way through my first year of college (Lets Go Tech!) taking my second computer course - Introduction to Object Oriented Programming, in Java.  We were probably on our instant messenger / chat program. How much easier that would have been with Web Services.  Two short years after that I was interviewing for my internship here at MS between Junior and Senior years when I was asked about XML.  I'd heard of it, but didn't really have any useful knowledge.  So it was explained to me as "Well, its kind of like HTML, it uses tags, but instead of saying what the thing looks like, it says what type of data is there.  So instead of a bold or italics tag, you'd have "Customer", "Address", or "Date".  And you can get specific, so you might have "Street", "State" and "ZipCode" under "Address"".  Cool, I got that.
 
So, with my now expert 2-minute old knowledge of XML I was asked to write down how you would send a Customer and Address to someone, which I did.  I think the only correction I needed was a mismatched case start/end tag.  Not too bad.  After I had my Customer, I was asked to express how I could transmit changes to that customer through the same message.  Ok, I can do that, show what the Customer looked like at first, and what it looks like now, making sure there was one common element (an ID) to match on.  Then I learned the 3rd major rule of XML, a single root node, so I wrapped all that in a message tag.  At that point the guy interviewing me looked up and said something like "Very good.  We call that Updategrams, we're shipping it in a few weeks as a way to update your database via an XML message."
 
All at once, my first MS job, my first MS interview, my first XML experience, my first SqlXml experience, and my first product design.  I seem to recall looking up, smiling, and thinking that I really wanted this job because this was the coolest interview ever.  4 years later I own SqlXml, know a lot more about XML (and still don't feel I know nearly enough), and still get much more excited than the average person should about Data Access Technologies.  And I'm still having a blast.  Where were you when XML was born?
 
Site Stuff
 
We were going over the XML Developer Center site statistics the other day and I was quite happy to see that our numbers were up across the board in visits, return visits, satisfaction, etc.  Thanks everyone for coming back and checking this place out. I'm working hard to make sure that we continue to provide new, fresh content, news, and guidance about the world of XML.  Coming up within the next week or so should be an article by one of our developers on creating an XmlReader with Bookmarking features.  Cool stuff.  As always, feel free to contact me with feedback about the site, what works, what doesn't, and what else you'd like to see.
 
SQLXML PM
XML Developer Center Content Strategist