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August 9, 2000

Extreme Markup Conference (08/13-18)

STG will be well represented at next week's Extreme Markup conference in Montreal. Our involvement includes:

One Day Tutorials

Sunday August 13
Introduction to programming in Perl, with emphasis on working with XML
Instructor: Syd Bauman, Brown University

Programming is often viewed as an extremely technical task that only geeks can do. Rudimentary programming, however, is not hard at all-it only requires that you know a few key parts of a language, and can think as dumb as a computer. This hands-on course will cover the basics of processing generic text files using Perl. Examples will be drawn from tasks which frequently arise in manipulating SGML, HTML, or XML files. The desperate perl hacker has become a figure of XML folklore for good reason: Perl can usefully be deployed both for substantial production projects which process XML, and for one-shot, throwaway programs. By the end of the course, participants will be able to write short Perl programs that perform multiple, moderately complex search-and-replacements on a text file. In Perl, there is more than one way to do it!

Prerequisite skills: familiarity with XML syntax and use of a text editor; no programming experience required. Participants should bring their own laptop and should have downloaded and installed Perl and ensured the program is working before the tutorial ( Please click here for instructions.

Monday August 14
Instructor: Steven J. DeRose, Brown University

"XLink" is the name of a syntax and a paradigm for powerful hyperlinking within and among all kinds of documents. With XLinks, we can add an unbounded variety of "click-and-go" possibilities, not only to documents that we create, but also to documents that we do not have the authority to change. XLink also enables actual link databases; this allows bidirectional traversal, multi-ended links, and link filtering (needed for true scalability). This tutorial begins with a history of hyperlinking, a survey of the limitations of HTML linkikng, and what can be achieved by overcoming them. The goals and the process of developing an XLink Recommendation (expected this year) are then described, along with some of the commercial opportunities that XLink is creating. Finally, the bulk of the tutorial is devoted to the details of linking and addressing in XML: functionality, syntax, design issues, trade-offs, and concepts.

Prerequisite skills: XML concepts, including tags, attributes, and tree structure. Knowledge of HTML linking is helpful.

Plenary Sessions

Tuesday: 11:00 - 11:45
Meaning and interpretation of markup
C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, W3C, MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, Claus Huitfeldt, University of Bergen, and Allen Renear, Brown University

SGML and XML markup signals the occurrence of specific features in a document; based on the markup, the reader may make certain inferences about the marked-up material. If the meaning of element types is expressed formally, then the task of interpreting the markup at a particular location in a document may be formulated as finding the set of inferences about that location which may be drawn on the basis of the markup in the document. Several different approaches to this problem are outlined; they vary in complexity, and indirectly provide a measurement of the relative complexity of different approaches to marking up particular kinds of information.

Wednesday: 2:00 - 2:45
The descriptive/procedural distinction is flawed
Allen Renear, Brown University

The traditional distinction between descriptive and procedural markup is flawed. It conflates questions of mood (indicative vs. imperative statements about a document) and domain (the kinds of objects named in those statements). It also fails to describe adequately the use of markup by authors rather than by later encoders. An adequate markup taxonomy must, among other things, incorporate distinctions such as those developed in contemporary "speech-act theory".

Wednesday: 2:45 - 3:30
Markup's current imbalance
Paul Caton, Brown University

Broadly, markup schemes create two kinds of elements for textual content: those which are "structural" and those which capture facts such as names, dates, etc. The theoretical justification of this approach lies in the claim of DeRose, et. al (1990) that text is an ordered hierarchy of content objects (OHCO). But OHCO concentrates on the visible part of the textual iceberg; there is a lurking danger in what is kept from view. The more we train ourselves to describe texts as inert structures, the less we train ourselves to recognize and analyze rhetorical strategies. The more we use one particular approach to markup without exploring alternatives, the greater the risk that we end up thinking we know an elephant because we can see its tail.

Late Breaking News

Wednesday 4:00 -- 4:45
XHub: An Online Service for Creating OEB eBooks from XML Documents
Elli Mylonas, Brown University

STG has developed a web-based environment, based on an underlying XSLT conversion architecture, to support the creation of OEB (Open eBook Publication Structure) ebooks from XML inputs. This service allows users to perform intelligent conversions of documents in formats like XHTML, TEI, DocBook, and others, into XML eBook Publications. This presentation will describe the design of XHub, some of the interesting problems solved in the course of its development, and some broader issues related to managing real-world XML transformations. We will also describe plans to use XHub as a test bed for exploring topics such as annotation exchange.

Poster Session

Using XML to describe Document Hierarchies: Storing Information about File Hierarchies and Links
Carole Mah, Brown University

This poster discusses how best to represent information about a set of hierarchically-linked documents (such as web sites) in a way that allows easy manipulation and reconfiguration.


Thursday 8:00 pm
The Open Electronic Book Publication Structure: An Update
Allen Renear, Brown University, Chair of the OEB Publication Structure Working Group

A talk about the current status of the OEB Specification and organization. Discussion of directions for version 2.0 is invited.