SDForum Web Services Conference

I spent today at the SDForum Web Services Conference in Santa Clara. SDForum put together quite a list of speakers from a variety of companies. I try to go to the monthly SDForum web services SIG, plus whenever engineers from both Yahoo! and Google are speaking, I don’t want to miss it.

The day included four keynote speakers, five panels and one lunchtime talk. I thought the best talks were:

  • Adam Bosworth (VP Engineering, Google) stressed the value of “simple sloppy highly-scalable protocols with single common formats” that can alter the world. He referred back to HTML/HTTP and is now advocating that RSS/Atom to be in that role today, if a scalable query mechanism is added.
  • Tim Bray (Co-inventor of XML, Director of Web Technologies, Sun) espoused the benefit of keeping web services simple and pointed to companies like Amazon, eBay and Yahoo! as examples of “the right way” to do it.
  • John Shewchuk (CTO Distributed Systems, Microsoft) focused on identity and authentication and new technologies that Microsoft is working on in this area. It seems that they are taking a more open approach to this compared to past attempts. (Links: Microsoft Web Services and Identity Blog)

I was less impressed with the panels. The topics seemed to ramble and some of the speakers didn’t seem interested in being there. One moderator admitted at the start of his panel that he had only just met the panelists; at the end of his panel, he even said that it “went better than he thought it would”. What kind of attitude is that?

With web services, there seem to be two distinct camps: the enterprise/heavyweight and practical/lightweight. This isn’t to say is an “A versus B” type of thing, but the two sides seem to be speaking different languages. I have a real hard time with “enterprise speak”, terminology that can make anything sound complicated and impressive.

Update: A couple of other blog postings on the event: