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Subject: RE: [obix-xml] XML Schema Train Wreck

Harry is always a good read, and usually pretty sound.  This nails the issue we have here.  As Bryan comes out of the closet with v0.3, I am hoping we have a first step of the RelaxNG scenario.
In other area, I am working wih a beautiful generic industrial factory automation controller today to do a one-of-a-kind niche application.  It Builds a beautiful touch-screen panel app with the capability of adding a blinking light based upon bringing together a whole lot of functions, calibrating senor points into temperaturs, and then averaging them, the whole bit.  It exposes a discrete range of higher-end functions through as touch-panel areas.  Alarms are beautifuly defined through this GUI. And it exposes the background hardware controllers as SOAP.
Sounds great, but. . .
None of the methods defined for the user interface are known to the SOAP.  None of the abstract propertys defined for the interface are known to the SOAP.  THe controler has standard WSDL that it always uses.  What can I do? Use the WSDL to query for register contents by tag ID.  Yuck.
This is exactly what I hope oBIX is not and fear it may be.
The enterprise developer does not want to see a bunch of tags.  My boss does not want to know the cell phones of my kids or the phone number of my mechanic.  The enterprise devoper does not want even to know about control processes, much less have them announced to him.  My boss and my co-workers do not want to know how many bowel movements I had today or have me announce them. The enterprise developer does not want to program a sequence of operations (nor do we want them to they do not have the training or aptitude for it).  My Boss does not want to sequence any task he gives me (and even less so if that sequence has to include trips to the water fountain)
We have LON, We have BACNET.  We have MODBUS.  We have Allan-Bradley.  We have Blue Fusion.  We have. . . . They are what they are, which is protocols for controls and controls applications. They are not protocols for the enterprise.

From: Doug Ransom [mailto:Doug.Ransom@pwrm.com]
Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 12:20 PM
Subject: [obix-xml] XML Schema Train Wreck

I thought I would post this as an XML general interest item.

From: Harry Pierson
Posted At: Thursday, August 19, 2004 11:26 PM
Posted To: aggregated
Conversation: More MSFT Architect Bloggers + a Standard Rant
Subject: More MSFT Architect Bloggers + a Standard Rant

We keep getting more and more field architects and architecture strategy team members blogging. Remember, I keep a list (I am becoming the Scoble of Microsoft Architecture). Anna Liu is a field architect evangelist who presented at TechEd Australia (but we didn't get a chance to hang out). Anna's also been thinking about software development as an engineering discipline.

In addition to Anna, two of my teammates are blogging: Chris Keyser and Dave Welsh. Chris is a solution architect who's doing some awesome next gen SOA work. He's been blogging about using WSE2 to manage Security Context Tokens. Chris, like John deVadoss (who has relapsed into silence), is very pragmatic so it's great to run radical ideas past him.

Earlier this year, our team "inherited" a group of awesome vertical architects - I've blogged about John Evdemon before who's from that group. Dave is also from that group. Like many of our vertical architects, Dave is heavily involved in standards bodies - in Dave's case it's UN/CEFACT. He's got an great article on how Standards Development Organizations traditionally work and another on how MSFT (and our specification partners) is improving on that process. He's shining a light on the dark corners of the standard process, which is a good thing since so many people act like standards are a silver bullet solution. I love Dave's description of the traditional standards process:

[L]aunch a committee, politically pick a chair, generate lots of hype and expectation on how this spec will solve world hunger, stack the new committee with people who may be able to contribute, host conference calls and arm wrestle the original idea down to some compromise that seems to make sense, then hope someone's got a number of free weekends over to write up a draft of the new spec.

You want an example of the results of a traditional standards process? How about XSD? I think XSD is the ugliest widely-used spec around.  Don agrees, according to his comments from last years SellsCon:

Nothing illustrates [the cost of standardization] more than XML schema. XML schema is the quintessential example of what happens with a design by standards body specification. Rather than taking something that worked and something that was done and that there was experience with and effectively dotting the i's and crossing the t's you had two from every company off doing wanton innovation and invention without implementation experience. It was a train wreck in the making, especially when you consider the fact that you had people who vehemently disagreed about what they were building. Some people thought they were bringing object orientation to XML. Some people thought they were bringing database schema concepts to XML. Some people thought they were just, you know, reliving the SGML dream. So what do we get? We get a Frankenstein's monster that is dumber than the dumbest person in the committee. No one person on that committee could have produced something this bad. It took an army of people to work hard day and night to build something that is not good. It's not terrible - can we make it work? Yes. But it's going to take a lot of work from a lot of plumbers and a lot of tool vendors to make XML schema palatable to the average developer.

A great example of the opposite approach is RELAX NG. It is widely believed at this point in time that RELAX NG is a better schema language for XML than XML schema. Why? Because two guys who were really smart said why don't we go do this and let's get it working and let's build it while we do it and let's iterate it and see what works and what doesn't work. And then when we're done we will take it to the rubber stamp - I'm sorry, Oasis - where they will carefully vet every decision and bless it and give it UN status.

I'm with Don and Tim: I want RelaxNG. More importantly, I want standards that are built like WS-* and RelaxNG.

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