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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The seventh level of geek 

Last night I went to the late night BOFs on XQuery and then even later the BOF on alternative languages. The Xquery BOF had a person from the W3C committee that created XQuery as well as one of the prominent book authors on the topic. From the W3C perspective, XQuery is as important as relational databases was to the birth of SQL. XQuery is not just seen as a query language for XML but as a "grand unifying model of data" that includes all the XML standards like XPath and XML Schema, but includes relational data structures as well. They were very proud of having developed a formal data model first and then used it as a basis for a coherent query language with well specified semantics. The use of XQuery as an important integration tool was also emphasized. At the alternative languages BOF there was a lot of talk about small language programming and the use of dynamic scripting languages. There were a lot of people from MONO and other open source projects there. There has been a lot of talk about how appropriate a strongly typed system like the java and .NET virtual machines are for more dynamic and functional languages like Ruby, Python, Eiffel etc. There seemed to be a lot of very inefficient casting operations that are required to go between the world of strongly typed and dynamic languages. There also seemed to be genuine MS interest on what can be done to bridge the gap.

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