On The Upcoming XML Developer Center on MSDN


MSDN has a number of Developer Centers for key developer topics such as XML Web Services and C#. There are also node home pages for lesser interesting [according to MSDN] topics such as Windows Scripting Host or SQLXML. Besides the fact that developer centers are highlighted more prominently on MSDN as key topics the main differences between the developer centers and the node home pages are




  1. Developer Centers have a snazzier look and feel than node home pages.



  2. Developer Centers have an RSS feed.



  3. Developer Centers can pull in blog content (e.g. Duncan Mackenzie’s blog on the C# Developer Center)


I’ve been working on getting a Developer Center on MSDN that provides a single place for developers to find out about XML technologies and products at Microsoft for about a year or more. The Developer Center is now about two weeks from being launched. There are only two questions left to answer.


The first question is what the tagline for the Developer Center should be. Examples of existing taglines are




  • Microsoft Visual C# Developer Center: An innovative language and tool for building .NET-connected solutions



  • Data Access and Storage Developer Center: Harnessing the power of data



  • Web Services Developer Center: Connecting systems and sharing information



  • .NET Architecture Developer Center: Blueprint for Success


I need something similar for the XML Developer Center but my mind’s been drawing a blank. My two top choices are currently “The language of information interchange” or “Bridging gaps across platforms with the ubiqitous data format”. In my frivilous moments, I’ve also considered “Unicode + Angle Brackets = Interoperability”. Any comments on which of the three taglines I have in mind sounds best or suggestions for taglines would be much appreciated.


The second issue is how much we should talk about unreleased technologies. I personally dislike talking about technologies before they ship because history has taught me that projects slip or get cut when you least expect them to do so. For example, when I was first hired fulltime at Microsoft about two years ago we were working on XQuery which was supposed to be in version 2.0 of the .NET Framework. At the time the assumption was that they’d both (XQuery & the next version of the .NET Framework) be done by the end of 2003. It is now 2004 and it is optimistic to expect that either XQuery or the next version of the .NET Framework will both be done at the end of this year. If we had gone off our initial assumptions and started writing about XQuery and the classes we were designing for the .NET Framework (e.g. XQueryProcessor ) in 2002 and 2003 on MSDN then we’d currently have a number of outdated and incorrect articles on MSDN. On the other hand this does mean that while you won’t find articles on XQuery on MSDN you do find articles like An Introduction to XQuery, XML for Data: An early look at XQuery ,X is for XQuery, and XQuery Tricks and Traps  on the developer websites of our competitors like IBM and Oracle. All four of those articles contain information that is either outdated or will be outdated when the W3C is done with the XQuery recommendation. However they do provide developers with a glimpse and an understanding of the fundamentals of XQuery.


The question I have is whether it would be valuable for our developers if we wrote articles about technologies that haven’t shipped and whose content may differ from what we actually ship? Other developer centers on MSDN have decided to go this route such as the Longhorn Developer Center and Web Services Developer Center which regularly feature content that is a year or more away from shipping. I personally think this is unwise but I am interested in what the Microsoft developer community thinks of providing content about upcoming releases versus focusing on existing releases.


Comments (4)

  1. a couple of thoughts for a tag line…

    XML Developers Center: Where do you want (your data) to go today?

    XML Developers Center: Extensible, Interoperable, Readable.

    XML Developers Center: Extensibility Defined.

  2. Christian Romney says:

    $0.02 XML Developer Center: The building blocks of enabling technologies.

    As for the articles, definitely! I for one like to read articles about horizon technologies because it makes the learning curve less steep. Remember m = y1- y0 / x1 -x0…even if some things change (or are scrapped altogether WS-Referral?) the background is helpful when learning the new iteration (ex: WS-Addressing WS-ReliableMessaging). Furthermore, look at books like the Brent Rector’s Introducing Microsoft WinFX book and Jeannine Hall Gailey’s Understanding Web Services Specifications and the WSE — both of which are based on technologies that have yet to go RTM as further evidence that there is an audience for this stuff. My only suggestion would be, of course, to disclaim articles based on evolving standards and even perhaps to give it its own section title like Bleeding Edge.

  3. Nick Parker says:

    Dare,

    I agree that it may be a mistake if you begin producing too much source code that will differ entirely when the product ships, however it would be great to cover conceptual material prior to release that will apply (i.e.; regardless of syntax) even after the product becomes available mainstream, thus encouraging the markets usage. Just my two cents.