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Last modified: July 06, 2008
Web Site Historical Sketch

The following calendar sketches (from fallible memory) the history of this online "SGML/XML" reference collection. The material first took shape in 1987 (or maybe 1986) in the form of a simple SGML bibliography. Motivation for the sketch? It's not that such history is likely to interest many readers, but that an obscure provision in an OASIS agreement obliges me to make public a record the major OASIS Board decisions reflecting changes in this edited work (Web site design, publication formats, sponsorships, etc.) Not a bad idea, probably: a lot of history is now lost to failed hard drives and unreadable tape cartridges. Too bad that descriptive markup cannot increase longevity by protecting against bit rot. If anyone remembers a salient and essential bit of history egregiously overlooked in the calendar, please submit it for the record. -rcc

In reverse chronological order:

  • [July 2008] In June 2008, Oracle became an OASIS Foundational Sponsor, in part through the acquisition of BEA.

  • [March 2007] In March 2007, Primeton became an OASIS Foundational Sponsor [news, also announcement], and sponsor of the XML Daily Newslink Newsletter, part of the Cover Pages publishing endeavor.

  • [May 2006] In May 2006, IBM became an OASIS Foundational Sponsor [news] and sponsor of Cover Pages/XML Daily Newslink.

  • [October 2005] In September 2005, BEA Systems, Inc. announced its upgrade to the Consortium's newest Foundational Sponsor member, thus also becoming a sponsor of The Cover Pages [news]. Also in October 2005, EDS announced upgrade to Foundational Sponsor [news], joining other OASIS Foundational Sponsors (BEA Systems, Innodata Isogen, SAP, and Sun Microsystems).

  • [December 2003] In the year 2003, Corel Corporation and Global Exchange Services begin terms of web site sponsorship.

  • [August 2002] In 2002, SAP AG initiates sponsorship for the web site

  • [June 29, 2001] In June 2001, Altova - The XML Spy Company joins ISOGEN International Corp. and Sun Microsystems in web site sponsorship for The XML Cover Pages.

  • [December 29, 2000] New Internet domain name and root URL for the XML Cover Pages web site: The domain name change represents an attempt to meet (1) OASIS marketing and branding requirements, and (b) the editor's requirement for a (functionally) permanent and persistent URL, such that there are no future adverse consequences for static (legacy) links into the document corpus, even if they involve fragment identifier portions (viz., terminal #nnnn substrings) which are currently not resolvable/redirectable under HTTP.

  • [April 13, 2000] Software AG joins ISOGEN International Corp., Sun Microsystems, and webMethods Inc. in web site sponsorship for The XML Cover Pages.

  • [February 16, 2000] Communiqué from the OASIS Executive Director to the effect that an external agency had been commissioned to create a new(-look) Home Page for the Web site. The new site files were sent to the editor on February 22, 2000 for publishing. A complete site review/redesign effort by an outside agency was commissioned by OASIS in November, 1999.

  • [September 22, 1999] webMethods Inc. joins ISOGEN International Corp. and Sun Microsystems as a Web site sponsor. See the announcement.

  • [September 21, 1999] Another Web Site Name Change: 'The XML Cover Pages', upon decision by OASIS, under Executive Director Laura Walker. Follows a long period of discussion, motivated chiefly by the observation that almost nobody refers to the site as "The SGML/XML Web Page", perhaps in part because (a) the grammatical singular Page doesn't work for a collection with over 4000 documents, and (b) the slash in "SGML/XML" is regarded as creating an inelegant, awkward, unpronouncable, and ungrammatical locution. 'The XML Cover Pages' supplies an alternative for those who are inclined to refer to the site by its title. The new name embodies a pun, at the expense of perpetuating confusion over the proper pronunciation of the editor's last name, which rhymes with "Dover" and "Rover", not with "hover" and "lover". New web site names lie in the future, no doubt.

  • [August 11, 1999] OASIS Board (OASIS Summer Workshop) determines (in principle) that the content of the News column can be redistributed by OASIS sponsor members as a sponsorship benefit, under terms of a written agreement that govern such use of the news content.

  • [March 16, 1999] OASIS Board under Executive Director Robin Tomlin decides to supply the News column to See the announcement.

  • [October 6, 1998] Sun Microsystems announces its decision to become a Web site sponsor, along with GCA, Inso, and ISOGEN. See the announcement.

  • [September 1998] Web site name change to 'The SGML/XML Web Page'. Of course, people pay no attention, and continue to reference the Web site under a variety of names, as make (more) sense (than 'The SGML/XML Web Page').

  • [September 1998] Web site (finally) moves from its SIL location to the new OASIS Web site, situated physically at ISOGEN International's Dallas office. It had taken "OASIS and the Robins of Spring" some time to finish the paperwork and to secure a Sun Sparc for a server.

  • [March 23, 1998] OASIS announces its intention to host the Web site as a public resource in support of its goals to promote openness and interoperability through education. The OASIS Consortium was formerly "SGML Open" (you see). The initial list of corporate sponsors are: Graphic Communications Association (GCA), Inso Corporation, and ISOGEN International Corp. See the announcement.

  • [1995] Informal Web site sponsorship is arranged through Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996), and SoftQuad. It meant encouragement and nominal tangible support for a hobby that had become 'work' because it was filling up the author's free time (before work, after work, weekends, holidays). Any reader who does not know about Yuri should peruse the collection of published remembrances.

  • [1994] First public HTML version, hosted on the SIL Web site. At this time, RCC was serving as a humanities computing consultant (and resident SGML guru) on the SIL CELLAR Project, within the Department of Academic Computing. Gary Simons, as project supervisor and Department Chair, permitted wide latitude in the investigation and documentation of markup/interchange practices which would (or might not) have material bearing on the design and implementation of the multilingual CELLAR environment.

  • [1993] Printed (formatted) version delivered via a GOPHER server from SIL. Remember "Gopher"? SIL's Evan Antworth helped implement the searchable GOPHER version of the multi-part document.

  • [January 1992] Bibliography continued in text format through 1992 at least. Archived in the SGML Repository, managed by (the wise-beyond-years) Erik Naggum. <aside>Erik's pointed criticisms of the SGML standard and of the standards processes seemed to fall on deaf ears, but subsequent developments rather vindicate, it would seem, the poignancy of his insight; he was the first, as far as I know, to propose a concrete remedy for the SGML attribute botch. Erik's defection should be reckoned as a landmark event.</aside> Bibliography version: 'January 1992'. Other published versions from this era are cited in the main bibliography index/introduction. [local archive copy]

  • [August 1991] Cover, Robin; Duncan, Nicholas; Barnard, David. "The Progress of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language): Extracts from a Comprehensive Bibliography." Literary and Linguistic Computing 6/3 (1991) 200-212. ISSN: 0268-1145. The article includes introductory essay sections delineating the fundamental conceptions of SGML, its broad application, and the advantages it brings to academia, industry and government sectors.

  • [February 1991] Published as a 312-page technical report on SGML and related standards (with David Barnard and Nicholas Duncan). Bibliography on SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) and Related Issues. Technical Report 91-299. Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. ISSN 0836-0227. This printed version of the database contained a "Short Bibliography" of 67 essential references, and a fuller "Main Bibliography" with 1403 citations (many with abstracts). The second major section was an SGML Directory for some 117 SGML-supporting groups in academia, government, or industry: each entry supplied addresses, descriptions of software products or SGML services, and references. See the Table of Contents and the bibliographic citation for details.

  • [1987-1990] Maintained the SGML reference list and distributed it periodically on Usenet News and various mailing lists (e.g., HUMANIST, TEI-L), where it became available via email requests to mailing list archives, principally on 'BITNET'. Several people assisted in the maintenance of the SGML bibliography during these years: Michael Sperberg-McQueen, Lou Burnard, David Barnard, Darrell Raymond (to name only a few). The earliest versions of the SGML bibliography, if not resident on obscure public servers somewhere, are now stranded on 5.25-inch possibly unreadable floppy diskettes.

  • [1986/1987] Steve DeRose introduced me to SGML. SGML's notion of descriptive markup made sense in the context of my struggle to coerce microcomputers to reckon with multilingual, mixed-right-to-left text. In those days, "multilingualism" was commonly treated superficially as a "special fonts" problem by software developers. I immediately began creating a bibliographic reference list for SGML, and circulated it among friends via email.

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