SGML'94 conference, USA

By Philippe Vijghen

SGML BeLux, Vol. 1, N° 4

From the 7th until the 10th of November, the Graphical Communication Association (GCA) held its annual North American SGML '94 conference, this time in Washington. This trip report highlights some of the subjects discussed during this conference.

The day before

The Sunday before the beginning of the actual conference was dedicated to different tutorials and to a meeting of the OmniMark User Group (OMUG) held at the same place. The success of the tutorials confirmed that the conference itself was going to have a higher than expected attendance (around 600 attendees). Clearly, SGML is beginning to appeal to a lot of people.

More than 140 users attended the OMUG meeting, which turned into a major event. During and after presentations of OmniMark applications, one very important trend clearly emerged: HTML (HyperText Markup Language), a simple '6 tags' SGML DTD defining World-Wide Web documents, is now being widely adopted by the early mass market and as such is turning into the world largest SGML application. According to John McFadden, only real innovators promote more sophisticated '200 tags' content-based SGML documents, but he nevertheless believed that those DTDs will be widely used around 1998.

General session opening

The general session was opened by Yuri Rubinsky with the 'Year in Review'. There were so many new and exciting projects and products this year that only the dominant trends were presented. These included, among others, the phenomenal success of the World-Wide Web (WWW), the official adoption of SGML by the Singaporean Ministry of Defence, several airline industry implementations, the ICADD initiative in Europe, an acute shortage of experienced SGML people, ... Joseph Hardin (NCSA) introduced her organisation, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and discussed the present status of Mosaic, the most popular WWW browser developed by NCSA, and its planned future enhancements.


Several interesting projects were presented at the SGML '94 conference:


Refreshing and inspiring presentations were made on the following subjects:


Different speakers discussed key management issues when migrating to SGML:

SGML systems overview

The different components of a complete SGML system were defined. For each class of components, selection criteria were presented, as well as a list of commercial products.

The following classification was used:


A number of evening workshops were organized about the following themes:

General session closing

The general session and the conference were closed by Jean-Pierre Gaspart (ACSE), who showed how SGML can be used effectively in client-server applications. He concluded by mentioning the possibility of revisions to the SGML standard, which should provide us with a 'full-blown but simple formal document description language'.

latest update: November 21 1995
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