XML hot from the oven

Jon Bosak (bosak@atlantic-83.Eng.Sun.COM)
Mon, 17 Mar 1997 16:49:42 -0800

I am pleased to announce that we are now serving XML as an
experimental alternative data format from our corporate document
server, docs.sun.com. Documents in the SGML repository at
docs.sun.com are autochunked and converted on the fly to XML. This
simply mirrors the server's primary function of converting SGML on the
fly to HTML; the main difference is that the job of converting to XML
is currently almost an identity transformation and is therefore much

docs.sun.com(sm) is itself experimental and unpublicized, so this is
an experiment running on top of an experiment, but we are proud to
claim the honor of having the world's first publicly visible XML
server. While the XML data stream is extremely raw in this first
implementation, the document repository is not; docs.sun.com currently
provides more than half of the total Solaris 2.5.1 manual set online,
and all of it can now be accessed as an XML data stream.

Kudos to the SunSoft AnswerBook team for making this service available
on top of everything else they are doing to meet our Solaris release


The SGML-based AnswerBook2 (ab2) manuals on docs.sun.com are organized
into several large categories (alluser, sysadmin, etc.) with a number
of books in each catagory. Thus, the Solaris Advanced User's Guide is
referred to in URLs as /ab2/alluser/ADVOSUG. Two forms of XML access
are currently supported: TOCs and document chunks. TOCs are accessed
via the @xmlToc template, and chunks are accessed via the @xmlChunk
template. The @xmlToc template always shows a table of contents down
to the chapter level, no matter what level it is invoked at.

To see the XML server in action, telnet to docs.sun.com with the

telnet docs.sun.com 80

When connected, you can issue one of several kinds of GET command to
cause an HTTP transfer. For example:

1. To get a chapter-level TOC of the entire contents of the server:

get /ab2/@xmlToc http/1.0

2. To get a chapter-level TOC of the manuals in the alluser category:

get /ab2/alluser/@xmlToc http/1.0

3. To get a chapter-level TOC of the Solaris Advanced User's Guide:

get /ab2/alluser/ADVOSUG/@xmlToc http/1.0

4. To get a particular chapter from the manual (as listed in the TOC):

get /ab2/alluser/ADVOSUG/@xmlChunk/113 http/1.0

Note that HTTP GET commands must always be terminated with TWO
carriage returns before anything happens. Hint: you will find the
output easier to handle if you do all this from within an emacs shell

Beyond its primary goal of giving us bragging rights, this service is
intended to provide a large-scale test bed for XML experimenters. At
the moment, all we can do is the simple identity transform from the
DocBook-tagged source, but in a few days we will have permissions set
up to go in and provide multiple alternative treatments in order to
explore different kinds of delivery strategies (for example, the
generation of SGML Open fragment wrappers vs. full server-side entity
resolution, or embedded CSS style attributes vs. associated dsssl-o
style sheets). We hope that this service will help to further the
evolution of XML by giving all you developers a rich set of
alternatives to play with.

Have fun!


Jon Bosak, Online Information Technology Architect, Sun Microsystems
2550 Garcia Ave., MPK17-101, Mountain View, California 94043
Davenport Group::SGML Open::NCITS V1::ISO/IEC JTC1/SC18/WG8::W3C XML
Here's a little game you can all join in with
It's very simple and I hope it's new
Make your own tags up if you want to
Any old tags that you think will do

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