How to cite this paper

Chesnutt, David, Betty Harvey, Laura Kelly and Mary McRae. “XML best practices: panel discussion.” Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2009, Montréal, Canada, August 11 - 14, 2009. In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2009. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 3 (2009).

Balisage: The Markup Conference 2009
August 11 - 14, 2009

Balisage Paper: XML best practices: panel discussion

David Chesnutt

Research Professor of History (ret.)

University of South Carolina

David Chesnutt developed a generic markup system and a computer-assisted indexing program for production of the Papers of Henry Laurens in the late 1970s. A member of the Poughkeepsie conference in 1987 which launched the Text Encoding Initiative, he actively participated in the TEI and the subsequent founding of the TEI-C.

Chesnutt launched the Model Editions Partnership in 1995, a small consortium designed to demonstrate the feasibility of bringing documentary editions online without sacrificing scholarly cannons. With co-coordinators Susan Hockey and C.M Sperberg-McQueen and the support of consortium members and consultants, the project developed a TEI-based DTD and Guidelines, etc. which are still in play today.

Chesnutt retired from the University of South Carolina as a Research Professor of History at the end of his projects in 2004.

Betty Harvey


Electronic Commerce Connection, Inc.

As President of Electronic Commerce Connection, Inc. since 1995, Betty Harvey has led many federal government and commercial enterprises in planning and executing their migration to the use of structured information for their critical functions. Over the past 14 years she has helped develop strategic XML solutions for her clients. Ms. Harvey has been instrumental in developing industry XML standards. Ms. Harvey is a member of OASIS Open and is currently an active participant in the Universal Business Language initiative. Previously she was a member of the Core Components subcommittee of the ebXML initiative. She is the co-author of Professional ebXML Foundations published by Wrox. Ms. Harvey founded the Washington, DC Area SGML/XML Users Group in 1995. She still coordinates the users group which is the longest standing XML users group. Ms Harvey is also a member of "The XML Guild" and recently co-authored the book Advanced XML Applications From the Experts at The XML Guild published by Thomson. Currently, Ms. Harvey is working with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on developing future system evolution for the Electronic Records Archive (ERA) system.

Laura Kelly

Technical Information Specialist

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Laura Kelly began her adventure in markup languages 10 years ago as an SGML tagger without a validator. After nearly being brainwashed into believing that XML was "just a fad," Laura was picked up by the U.S. National Library of Medicine where her markup language re-education began. Laura is currently still with the NLM, her work focusing on the PubMed Central project. She also enjoys playing devil's advocate while serving as a member of the NLM Archiving and Interchange Tag Suite Working Group.

Mary McRae

Director of Standards Development

Technical Committee Administrator


Mary McRae is the Director of Standards Development and Technical Committee Administrator for OASIS, and provides front-line support for OASIS committees and the standards they produce. As tugboat captain extraordinaire, she guides TC ships at each milestone through the treacherous shoals of the TC Process, and then leads them back to open water where they can continue their work in relative safety. Mary also serves on the OASIS Technical Advisory Board and the OASIS Board Process Committee. She joined the OASIS staff in 2004, but she has been an active member of the Consortium since 1995 and served on the OASIS Board of Directors in 1999. Mary became involved in structured markup languages in 1992 while working for Butterworth Legal Publishers, where she mastered the nuances of document analysis, DTD development, structured editors, and content management systems. Later, as Vice President of XML Solutions and Principal XML Technologist for DMSi, she used her skills at project management, needs analysis, requirements definition, product selection, schema development, application customization, and training to help clients avoid the pitfalls she encountered herself as an early adopter. Sandwiched in between, Mary was the Manager of Sales Support for Xyvision (now SDL XySoft), focusing on SGML/XML content management solutions. Mary is co-author of "Office 2003 XML" and can occasionally be spotted at industry conferences. In her spare time, Mary is a textile artist and barista.


Who doesn't want to do things well? Who doesn't want to stand on the shoulders of giants? Who doesn't want to share hard earned wisdom with others? So why is it that "best practices" are so elusive? In this panel discussion we consider how "best practices" (and practices that, for whatever reasons, masquerade as "best") can be discovered, recognized, verified, modified, replaced, debunked, enforced, promulgated, etc.