This week I had a chance to see firsthand why China is becoming a force to be reckoned with in software development. The caliber of the attendees at the Open XML workshop in Beihang University was very high, and their questions were very interesting. We had many attendees who have read significant portions of the Open XML spec, and attendees who have written creative Open XML applications. And there's a great energy level that everyone has here when it comes to technology; expect to see some cool Open XML work coming out of China soon.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this workshop a success. Joe Lee and Ryan Lu were absolutely great, both in terms of helping out at the workshop and also coordinating my limited sightseeing time. Joe arranged for me to fit in the Great Wall the day I arrived, and Ryan made sure I had a smooth experience visiting the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, right down to a custom hand-drawn map including English and Chinese signs. I had the pleasure of meeting some of my DPE colleagues including Ray Zhang and Acsen Jin, and I also had a great meeting with Steele Mao and his team over at the Sigma facility.
For my colleagues at the Mill Tower office, here's a photo of your building I took last night. It looks pretty cool under the night sky after a much-needed Beijing downpour had cleared the air, don't you think?
The talented students really added to this workshop. Daniel and the rest of Jun Shan's team from Digital China are building a cool Open XML solution that I'll be writing about in detail later. Belinda and the other ladies from BUAA's graduate program all have such deep knowledge of Open XML from studying the spec, and they also took the time to teach me about the inner workings of UOF and answer a bunch of my questions. Thanks, teachers!
This was the first workshop I've done where there was not a single question or comment about the politics of the current "document format debate" -- every word for three days was 100% focused on how to deliver results. The abstract and quasi-religous concept of being "for" or "against" a particular format was as foreign to these developers as some of the food we ate for lunch was to me. 🙂
Time to get packed up and head for home, after three weeks on the road and Open XML workshops in six countries: Czech Republic, Belgium, Slovenia, Germany, Ukraine and China. I'll get a couple of weeks to catch up on email (if you're waiting on something from me, remind me next week), and then it will be time to go talk to Open XML developers in South America and Latin America for a while. Who has more fun?
Speaking of fun, I showed some of my new friends in Beijing how to use the rand() function in Word to generate text for demos, and they showed me how it looks on their laptops: