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NOTE TO TOOL OWNERS: In this blog I will occasionally make statements about products that you will take exception to. My intent is to always be factual and accurate. If I have made a statement that you consider to be incorrect or innaccurate, please bring it to my attention and, once I have verified my error, I will post the appropriate correction.

And before you get too exercised, please read the post, date 9 Feb 2006, titled "All Tools Suck".

Friday, June 29, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different....

Well, not that different actually.

As of Monday 2 July I will be moving from Innodata Isogen ( to Really Strategies ( This move comes after 11 years at ISOGEN in its various incarnations, from a 20-person consultancy to a part of DataChannel (riding that Internet wave) to part of Innodata. It was a great period in my career--I got to do lots of interesting things and work with really great people, but it was time for a change, time to see what else was out there.

One big change with this job move is that I will, for the first time since becoming a Standards Maven, work for a company with a product. I have until now been a fiercely product-independent integrator, working for companies that had no preferential agreements with any vendors, partners with all.

Really Strategies has in the last year developed and marketed its RSuite Content Management System, targeted primarily at publishers.

How do I justify this change as still being consistent with my values and principles as a standards-championing consultant? Am I simply throwing away the reputation I've built as a person who hates all products, for the reasons outlined in the first posts to this blog? I hope not. I'm sure people will tell me if I have.

My justification is driven by the following observations:

1. My personal situation has changed over the last two years in a way that has forced me to realign my priorities, in particular, having started a family and built a house, I have to give more weight to compensation than I ever had to in the past. In short, I've gone from living well below my means to living just beyond them. And I've got to think about things like gymnastics class and preschool tuition and what it costs to travel with a child and so on. So yes, my convictions have been moderated just a little by demon cash.

2. For financial and other reasons, I'm not ready to hang up a shingle. It's just too much risk right now. Maybe in a few years.

3. There are only a few companies that do independent XML-related systems integration in North America and even fewer who could meet my outrageous compensation requirements or otherwise integrate me into their business.

4. Really Strategies is still first and foremost an integration consultancy that happens to have a product, rather than a product company that has an unavoidable services group. So far they've found that having the product is resulting in much more services work, mostly unrelated to the product. That is, the product is serving as much as a marketing tool as it is as a revenue source (although I understand we're selling a few licenses too, which isn't bad). That means that it's not all about the product, but still about solving client problems.

5. As ISOGEN was and is, Really Strategies is still about standards and that is reflected in their products as well as their services work (and if it's not, you can be sure I'll have something to say about it, and maybe even something to do about it).

6. Part of my job responsibility will be contributing to the architectural definition of the RSuite product. Because it's a very new product, even if it turns out to be heinous (which I don't think it is but I haven't yet had a chance to look under the hood), there's lots of opportunity to correct it. In addition, it's built on top of MarkLogic, for which I have a great deal of respect, both in terms of its engineering quality and in terms of its respect for and adherence to the standards it implement Just the fact that the RSuite engineers made that choice is a good sign (although it's no guarantee of anything, but there are only a couple of correct choices for a CMS base and a whole lot of wrong ones, and MarkLogic is definitely one of the correct choices, in my opinion).

Thus, while I will be working for a product company, it's in a situation where standards are still paramount and where I'll personally have an opportunity to express my principles and thoughts and ideas about how a product like RSuite should serve its users and not the other way around. And I suspect that most of my work as an integrator will not be related to RSuite at all, simply because of the nature of the types of projects that Really Strategies tends to sell.

Time, of course, will tell.

In any case, I'm very much looking forward to this opportunity to have early and direct influence on a product and not just via bug reports and feature requests and whining at the engineers I happen to know inside the company. I'll continue to do that of course, but now I'll be able to whine at engineers I actually work with.

I will also continue to be involved in standardization activities as much as I can, continuing the work I've been doing with the DITA and XSL-FO standards and probably contributing to other standards that are more relevant to Publishers rather than technical documentors, which has been my primary focus to date.

And it shouldn't surprise anyone if you start to see stuff about DITA-specific features in RSuite. Just saying....

Comments: My Bad

I just realized that since I turned on comment moderation to reduce comment spam, I actually have to go in and moderate comments. Doh!

My apologies to those who waited a month or more to see their comments approved. I'll try not to let it happen again.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Message To Warm a Taghead's Heart

Trying to connect to my Yahoo! Mail account, I got this popup box. I was quite pleased to see that it was upset about not getting any XML in the response.