On Wednesday October 19, 2005, Mads Torgersen, Amanda Silver, and yours truly will be presenting a BOF on LINQ in the Royal Palm Salon 1+2, 5:00 – 7:30pm during OOPSLA 2005 in the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego, CA.

With three language geeks (one from VB land, one ex-academic from the Java side, and one ex-academic from the Haskell side) presenting, this should be a fun night.

Modern applications operate on data in several different forms: Relational tables, XML documents, and in-memory objects. Each of these domains can have profound differences in semantics, data types, and capabilities, and much of the complexity in today's applications is the result of these mismatches. The future "Orcas" release of Visual Studio aims to unify the programming models through integrated query capabilities in C# and Visual Basic, a strongly typed data access framework, and an innovative API for manipulating and querying XML. This talk explains the ideas behind language integrated queries (LINQ) and discusses the language enhancements behind them.

Slides The slides for the presentation are here.

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Is XML really needed?

Please consider this a serious question. For all these years that XML exists, I have been wondering why it is there. I've read lots of articles on XML, but found none satisfactory. It seems to me way more verbose than it should be, a waste of bandwidth, almost impossible to read without a tool, totally useless without knowing the meaning of the tags, and completely failing to capture the relational model.

I recognize the need for a universal format, for a portable structured format for information exchange, but XML is not the proper choice.

If this question may seem inappropriate for LtU, I apologise. But since it is going to be part of a programming language, maybe the question is not so irrelevant after all.

It exists partly because you

It exists partly because you need something like that to start attacking the more serious problems, and partly because nobody wanted to use s-expressions whereas everybody's used to SGML-likes thanks to HTML. XML itself is no big deal, but something like it still needs to be there.

XML is well-suited for document markup

It's worth remembering that XML, like SGML before it, was originally intended for marking up documents. Seen from that perspective, aspects like the distinction between elements and attributes, mixed content, and order-dependence make more sense.

On the contrary, many XML documents are readable

If you insist that XML documents are unreadable, of course you're not going to see the point of it. There are some difficult-to-read formats such as SOAP, but a well-designed XML format with well-chosen tag names can be sufficiently easy to understand that you can pick it up from a few well-chosen examples. That's a nice property to have.