Bladerunner Charm – Last week I met Charles Munat, Seth Russell, and William Loughborough at a Tully’s in Seattle’s Chinatown. After a very interesting few hours of conversation, I got lost on my way home, and ended up in an area of Seattle I have never been before. One intersection I remember is 4th ave SE and Michigan. If you ever want to get a feel for what Detroit is like, go visit this area – the surroundings are exactly like Michigan Avenue in Detroit, with the only difference perhaps being that there are Teryaki places on the corners instead of Popeye’s or Coney Islands. This experience got me wondering about how Detroit has been doing since I left, and thanks to the wonderful world wide web, I soon was looking at a site called The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit, that captures the city just as I remember it. I was saddened to see that The Soup Kitchen is now closed (this was one of my favorite restaurants). The Wonder Bread factory that gave out free bread to the victims of the great ’97 tornado is now gutted for Casino development. The first time my car got stolen (shortly after the tornado), it turned up in the projects, which have been demolished since I left. The Fisher Building had great egg salad and shoe-shines; I used to go to church right near this place (it looked just as bad then). I used to work right across the street from these buildings, which are apparently all torn down now, and this fortress was abandoned even when I could see it out my office window five years ago. My parents saw the Doors and Cream at this place; now abandoned, it has served as venue for a few raves. Some of my favorite parties were in the old Packard Plant, which is apparently being demolished now, too. I could tell a story about every place pictured on that site; but what’s the lesson? I guess it would be that nothing lasts forever, and all we get to keep is our memories of our experiences. Perhaps the best example of this attitude is the Hudson’s Building, which was imploded right in downtown Detroit. In the months before the implosion, the City of Detroit allowed area artists to paint whatever they wanted on the sides of the building. Everyone knew the building was coming down, but that just made it seem all the more important to experience and remember the paintings while we could.
Office Wins – Today ZDNet runs an article about how Office beat Netdocs; or more accurately, how Netdocs is now a part of Office. It happened sooner than I expected, but perhaps later than it should have. One of the common phrases heard on the Microsoft campus is “shipping is a feature”, and shipping was one feature that Office bested Netdocs on, no contest. I think that the problem of building and coding an “Office.NET” is pretty much solved within Microsoft; shipping it is the only challenge left. I also think that the right people are now in charge of that piece. All of us previously part of “Netdocs” now get swallowed by other parts of the organization and continue to focus on shipping. Knowing that we might be able to ship before Office was half of the excitement before, though, so we’ll see what happens.
We Appreciate Dave – Yesterday Dave complained that Microsoft does not appreciate him. In fact, I think anyone involved would agree that he has done more to widen the interop of SOAP 1.1 than perhaps anyone else. The discussion on soapbuilders list have been an incredible education in what it will take to do interop — an education for Microsoft and an education for developers of SOAP implementations for years to come. This is the kind of hard work that is necessary for interop, and I do not think we can be anything but grateful for the drive and accomplishment shown by all of the people taking initiative and independently working on this.
The only point of confusion, I think, is the idea of a “subset” of a W3C standard. A few years ago, when it became clear that XSD spec would drag on for a couple of years and be very complex, Microsoft (and Andrew Layman) decided to make a simple subset called XDR, that we could use for interoperability while waiting for XSD to be finished, and that would also be completely compatible with XSD when it finally was finished. Still to this day I have customers who tell me that a Microsoft competitor told them that “Microsoft doesn’t support XSD, they made up their own incompatible schema language.” And the standards bigots flamed away about XDR.
So the issue of subsets is a bit touchy, I suppose. It would be highly unlikely for Microsoft to take the risk of endorsing a subset of any spec again, especially a spec that is already finished and accepted by nearly everyone. The fact that Andrew wrote XDR in the first place should show that he’s a fan of simplicity and interop sooner rather than later. The fact that we got our butts kicked for it should explain why we don’t intend to “go there” again.