Re: moving into xml-based writing

Subject: Re: moving into xml-based writing
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Becky Edmondson <beckyed -at- rcn -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2008 22:58:37 -0700

Becky Edmondson wrote:
> Anyone have any experience or useful thoughts about how to add XML skills to
> your portfolio when you are a contractor? Being of a geeky mindset, I'm
> pretty sure I'd enjoy XML, but I haven't a clue where to start. What should
> you learn, and in what order? How geeky do you need to be--must you be able
> to write XSL transforms, for instance? Do you need to take formal classes,
> or can you learn enough by just hacking up some XML-based docs on your own?

I took a Saturday class through my local community college. It met for a
month, and was enough time to do hands-on practice with the big topics
like DTD, XSL, XPath, and namespaces, but barely scratched the surface
of the contemporary things XML can do with schemas and extensions.

The class was geared to learning XML from scratch, but the people in the
class kicked discussions up a few notches because most were
professionals (COBOL programmers, DBAs, webmasters, ...) who brought
ideas about how they wanted to use XML. Everyone seemed to expect XML to
open new opportunities, or to be a skill they needed to catch up with
their profession. It wasn't clear whether anyone had to have XML skills
to remain in a traditional role, but it seemed pretty clear that XML is
established or making inroads everywhere.

For me, a class was more productive than chipping away at understanding
XML on my own.

> I dunno, maybe this won't really bring in any real money. About 75% of my
> clients still want deliverables as Word docs. I hate Word, but being able to
> wrangle it is practically a lifetime employment guarantee.

The difference between a guarantee of lifetime employment and a life
sentence on the rockpile might seem clear and distinct until you
suddenly discover that the guarantee doesn't cover job satisfaction.
Let's face it, you and I aren't the only skilled Word workers whose
tolerance of Word is worn thin. I have room for grave doubts about the
wisdom of being tied to tools with proprietary formats, because the
skills in those tools are only skills in those tools. They're not
transferable! XML offers a chance to develop more generally-applicable

A class would make a reasonable investment even if your only objective
was to see what the rest of the XML world is doing, apart from MSXML.

Good luck,

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com


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moving into xml-based writing: From: Becky Edmondson

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