Bernie Spang on IDUG's XML Challenge

Bernie Spang, Director of Marketing for IBM Data Management Software, expounds on the XML Challenge sponsored by IDUG running through February 1st, 2009.


Scott Laningham (, developerWorks Podcast Editor, IBM developerWorks

Scott LaninghamScott Laningham, host of developerWorks podcasts, was previously editor of developerWorks newsletters. Prior to IBM, he was an award-winning reporter and director for news programming featured on Public Radio International, a freelance writer for the American Communications Foundation and CBS Radio, and a songwriter/musician.

06 February 2009

You can listen to this podcast HERE.

developerWorks: This is a developerWorks podcast. I'm Scott Laningham here with Bernie Spang, Director of Marketing, IBM Data Management Software. He's here to talk about the XML Challenge sponsored by IDUG running now through February 1st, 2009. Hey, Bernie.

Bernie: Good morning, Scott.

developerWorks: Thanks for doing this.

Bernie: Thank you.

developerWorks: Could you do a quick recap on what the XML Challenge is all about for those that might have missed the previous podcasts that we did with Irshad Raihan.

Bernie: Certainly. The XML Challenge is our contest for finding our XML superstar. It's a competition that actually consists of five different contests and it's aimed at students and professional developers to give them an opportunity to showcase their skills and their creativity in working with XML data in application.

developerWorks: Great. Now, who are the participants in terms of the range of people that you expect and want to participate?

Bernie: Well, we started this challenge in Asia and Europe and more recently in the United States and Canada. We have nearly 65,000 active participants now and it ranges from students at the university level to professional developers around the world.

developerWorks: Wow. You said 65,000 so far?

Bernie: That's correct. And most recently we opened up in the US and Canada. We already have hundreds of participants here as well and are seeing those numbers grow.

developerWorks: That's fantastic. Now, I'm sure we talked a bit about prizes last time. I wondered if maybe you want to recap that and see if there's any new information along those lines because that's all ... the incentive obviously is partially related to what people can win, right?

Bernie: Well, that's true. And you know, you get a free t-shirt for just for registering and completing the initial quick quiz. But prizes for each of the contests include iPods, GPS devices, laptops, and PlayStations®.

developerWorks: You know, the community part of it, too, I'm sure the networking and community recognition, social networking, that just increasingly becomes more important with these things year to year, don't you think?

Bernie: Oh, I agree and that's one of the reasons we've included in this contest the notion of becoming an XML grandmaster. So participants obviously with their creativity and their submissions earn points, but also in their participation in the contest in commenting on other submissions and voting, as well as inviting friends and others to participate in the contest and effectively becoming an ambassador for the contest are other ways that they can earn points toward becoming an XML grandmaster.

And then those who achieve that status are eligible for another major prize, as well as being among the group that I'm sure will be those who are considered for the XML superstar that we are all searching for here.

developerWorks: Is that how you describe the top two tiers of accomplishment in the contest, grandmaster and then superstar at the top?

Bernie: Correct.

developerWorks: Now, what about important dates coming up? I know you mentioned the contest running in Europe and Asia. What about U.S. and Canada? And you know, other important dates people should keep in mind around all of this?

Bernie: Okay. Well, the next big milestone date is December 1st when we'll be opening up the programming contests in the United States and Canada. So those are, there's two contests, one for porting applications to DB2, taking advantage of the pure XML capability, as well as develop a new XML application for DB2.

Currently we have the other three contests live in the United States and Canada: The video contest where you can video yourself demonstrating your inventive and creative use of XML. A gadget contest for developing downloadable gadget or widget that takes advantage of the DB2 pure XML capabilities. And a query contest gives you the opportunity to non the use of X query to find the best answers to five questions.

developerWorks: That's cool. Do you guys have some sense of the state of XML skills in the broader developer community worldwide in, you know, I mean, obviously it's a mature coding language and has been adopted widely. But do you have some sense of that? I just wonder with a contest like this if that's something that's in the back of your mind in terms of evangelizing around it?

Bernie: Well, certainly. I mean, as you say, it's a mature technology, but what we're finding is increasingly industry, all industries around the world are defining XML-based standards for capturing and transmitting data specific to their industry. The need for programming skills, for application programming skills that are familiar and work with XML as data as opposed to XML as just a document type is becoming increasingly critical. So certainly the future generations of applications, business applications that are being developed now and we certainly see for the foreseeable future will rely heavily on XML data and those developers who are best skilled are going to be the ones to best bring business value to their employers.

developerWorks: So is that, I assume that's one of your goals here, is to drive more awareness of that certainly within the academic community and even beyond, right?

Bernie: Correct. And certainly the awareness of the importance of XML and dealing with XML's data and applications and also showcasing the unique capabilities that we've developed into our DB2 software that we call pure XML for managing that XML data in its native form.

developerWorks: I asked Irshad this before, Bernie, but I'm wondering if you want to just recap IBM's clear interest. There's obviously a clear interest in IDUG and the data management thing here, but how would you describe IBM's unique interest in this contest and what it's trying to promote?

Bernie: Well, our interest is growing the community of developers who are actively using XML in creative ways to drive new business value in applications and taking advantage of the capabilities that we've provided in DB2 to do that in a way that makes development quicker and easier, makes the applications perform better and certainly makes them more flexible for modification at the speed the business needs to go. So increasing the awareness of this capability and the power it provides developers really is our interest in this and as caretakers of the DB2 community, if you will, the DB2 user group certainly shares that motivation and the motivation to grow the number and the strength of the DB2 user community.

developerWorks: Excellent. So that's the XML Challenge sponsored by IDUG running now through February 1st, 2009. And the Web site is; is that right, Bernie?

Bernie: Correct.

developerWorks: So check that out, everybody. Bernie Spang, again, has been our guest, Director of Marketing, IBM Data Mmanagement Software. Thanks so much, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Scott.

developerWorks: Again, find out more at or in the XML Zone at, IBM's premier technical resource for software developers with tools, code and education on IBM products and open standards technology. I'm Scott Laningham. Talk to you next time.



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