The track at XML 2007 (Boston, 3–5 December) that I often refer to simply as the “Document track” is actually called “Documents and Publishing.” That’s an important distinction, because publishing — even using a text-y format like XML — doesn’t have to involve producing a document of any kind, print or online.
XML and British television reruns
An excellent illustration of that point is Matthew Browning’s and Robin Doran’s presentation, BBC iPlayer Content production: The Evolution of an XML Tool-Chain. Matthew and Robin talk about how, once the team stopped thinking about their information in relational database terms and started thinking in XML terms (RelaxNG, to be specific), it became a lot easier to manage changes and improvements to the project, which lets viewers watch shows they’ve missed from the last seven days of BBC television. It worked so well, in fact, that two other projects became redundant.
XML in practice
That’s not to say that it was necessarily an easy transition, but in the BBC’s case, at least, the rewards far outstripped the cost. That’s precisely the point of our 2007 conference them, “XML in Practice” — we’ve selected many papers that emphasize what did and didn’t work in real, large-scale projects, rather than focusing on new specs and prototypes, to help people make the same kinds of decisions in their own projects. XML won’t always make sense — in some cases, it will never make sense — but learning from others’ experience is a much better guide than speculation.