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Archive for September, 2007|Monthly archive page

Opportunity Costs

In general on September 26, 2007 at 7:56 pm

One side-effect of DIS29000 (the fast track submission to ISO of Microsoft’s office formats) is the saturation of effort from those involved in the ‘normal’ XML standards creation and promotional activities. This was evident is the lackadaisical response to the proposal to adopt STX as the basis for streaming transformations in the ISO DSDL activity, and the general slow-down on development activities. At a more local level, there has been a notable absence of activity within XML:UK (the user group for markup users in England). At XML:UK’s Publishing 2.0 event back in April, it was mooted that there would be an XForms workshop, a members meet and some other activities this year. With just over three months to go in 2007, there is no sign of any of these events.

With the demise of the interchange publication (which I edited for years as a user group syndicated publication from the International SGML/XML Users Group), the value gained in XML:UK membership needs to be demonstrable. The opportunity cost of not acting is far greater than the risk of providing the imprimatur to others to create value for members. There is plenty of energy to tap into: XML adoption continues to grow and the proliferation of ad hoc events show the demand for grass roots activities.

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Time Please

In code on September 11, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Java has got its date and time support into a complete mess. For a language that’s only a dozen years old (I remember looking at the aplha release in 1995, so from my perspective it’s about to become a teenager), there wasn’t too much thought given to handling one of the fundamental capabilities of computer systems. I’m not sure what the architectural considerations were employed when constructing this solution, but it is not good. In particular, it is hard to simply access a date: the constructors are abstract because the designers want people to use calendars as the primary way to access the date! Using Calendar as the computation object is anti-intuitive.

Fortunately help is at hand. Joda-Time provides a quality replacement for the Java date and time classes. It’s being used as the basis for the new Java Date and Time API (JSR310 for the code geeks out there) and the hope is that this will make it into Java 7. Whether it is the future implementation or not is moot – it provides fanastic date and time handling capabilities out of the box and it is here, now.