Simon St. Laurent

Simon St. Laurent is a web developer, network administrator, computer book author, and XML troublemaker living in Ithaca, NY. His books include XML: A Primer, XML Elements of Style, Cookies, Office 2003 XML, and the XML Pocket Reference.

You can find his writing on everything from technology to Quakerism to life in Dryden to gardening to New York State politics aggregated at

Distributed resilience with functional programming

Steve Vinoski on when to make the leap to functional programming.

Functional programming has a long and distinguished heritage of great work — that was only used by a small group of programmers. In a world dominated by individual computers running single processors, the extra cost of thinking functionally limited its appeal. Lately, as more projects require distributed systems that must always be available, functional programming approaches suddenly look a…
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CSS keeps growing

Once used for simple formatting, CSS now dominates the web presentation layer.

Eric Meyer, the author of CSS: The Definitive Guide (and much more) has taught thousands of people CSS through his books, his talks, and his articles. I’ve always enjoyed hearing his take on the state of CSS, as he manages to find combinations of capabilities that make CSS more powerful than I thought it was when…
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Shrinking and stretching the boundaries of markup

Doing less and more than XML.

It’s easy to forget that XML started out as a simplification process, trimming SGML into a more manageable and more parseable specification. Once XML reached a broad audience, of course, new specifications piled on top of it to create an ever-growing stack. That stack, despite solving many problems, brings two new issues: it’s bulky, and there are a lot…
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Applying markup to complexity

The blurry line between markup and programming.

When XML exploded onto the scene, it ignited visions of magical communications, simplified document storage, and a whole new wave of application capabilities. Reality has proved calmer, with competition from JSON and other formats tackling a wide variety of problems, while the biggest of the big data problems have such volume that adding markup seems likely to create…
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JavaScript and Dart: Can we do better?

JavaScript and Dart: Can we do better?

The good parts of JavaScript and beyond

O'Reilly editor Simon St. Laurent talked with Google's Seth Ladd about the challenges of improving the web.  How can we build on JavaScript's ubiquity while addressing performance, team, and scale issues?

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Understanding Mojito

Understanding Mojito

Yahoo's Mojito lets you run code where it's easiest.

O'Reilly editor Simon St. Laurent talked with Yahoo's Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz about the possibilities Node opened and Mojito exploits. Yahoo's Mojito is a different kind of framework: all JavaScript, but running on both the client and the server.

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Making the most of the iPad life preserver

I was very happy to hear less fear at last week's TOC conference than I've heard at previous shows. Publishers, while still concerned about their futures, seem to be adjusting to the prospects of a much less book-centric world. A couple of years ago I'd hear standard complaints like "people don't read any more," "customers would rather surf than read,"…

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Continuous publishing through Live Editions

One of the biggest challenges of technical publishing is that sinking feeling you get a few moments, days, weeks, or months after you first see a book in print: it's obsolete. No matter how much hard work you put into a book, you can only do so much future-proofing. Sometimes obsolescence comes slowly, but often, especially for popular topics, books have a depressingly short shelf life. Readers want to be able to use the latest and greatest, and blame books quickly when something no longer works.

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Web developers can rule the iPad

Web developers can rule the iPad

Arise, web developers! Our time has come to dominate! A lot of tech commentators seem disappointed that the iPad feels more like an evolutionary step than a revolutionary step. For one group of technologists, though, the iPad is an opportunity for revolution, to take center stage in creating experiences users will want, and even want to buy. The iPad is all about consuming content, but most of the conversation about that content has seen it in traditional silos…

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Why is HTML Suddenly Interesting?

After a decade of quiet, HTML is a hot topic once again. While there is pent-up demand for new features, the conversation reflects a more basic change in the Web's landscape.

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