DBAWG's annual outing to the Highlands proved somewhat more intellectually strenuous than usual, partly because poor weather kept us within doors for most of the time, but mainly because this was the last opportunity to get the group's proposals for a Data Storage Description Language (DSDL) into a presentable form before they are submitted for consideration by the ANSI "Experts' Meeting" in Paris next month. Consequently I spent most of Friday and Saturday in the DSDL subgroup going through the syntax paper (78 pages of BNF) correcting errors, inconsistencies and spelling mistakes and rewording it here and there to keep it in line with the vocabulary used by the latest ANSI specification for network database systems, which our document is intended to complement. The last part of Saturday's session (finishing around 11 pm) was spent revising and partly rewriting an eight page document intended to make the case for a DSDL as an introduction to the syntax paper.
Other entertainments included a plenary session in which the standing paper on Access Control was gently but firmly shot down in flames. Most of my bits of it remained intact, but it was agreed that substantial restructuring of the paper was necessary. This will be attempted (at the Open University) before the next meeting.
There was a proposal to publish the group's other major effort this year (a syntax for distributed database systems) possibly together with other papers in book form, for which I (naturally) proposed the use of the Lasercomp.
There was much informal discussion about so-called fourth generation packages and some useful (if impressionistic) comparisons made between various options we might consider for the VAX.