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Frequently Asked Questions

Q:What is a "Directory Service Markup Language"?
A vocabulary and schema (a structured framework) for describing the structure and content of directory services information in an XML Document. Directory information can then be easily used by any application that makes use of XML, including browsers and e-commerce applications - enabling frictionless e-commerce.

Q:What is DSML.org?

This Web site is intended to provide more information on the DSML spec, its partners and future developments. Here you will find most recent news and events surrounding the DSML initiative.

Q: How can I view the specification?
To download a zip file containing the full DSML 1.0 specification, the DTD and the Biztalk schema formats, click here.

Q:Who were the founding members of the standard?
Bowstreet introduced the initial draft of the DSML specification. The founding members at the time were IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle and the Sun-Netscape Alliance. The working group of dsml.org has sent the final draft of the specification to OASIS.

Q:Who is developing and working on DSML 2.0?

Many organizations, including the founding members of DSML.org have signed up to work on the technical committe, which will further develop the DSML standard. Click here for further information regarding this group.

Q: Why has DSML been created?
To standardize the way directory services information is represented in XML. With a recognized standard, applications can be written to make use of DSML and capture the scalability, replication, security and management strengths of directory services.

Q: What's special about DSML that makes it an essential building block for e-commerce applications?
Directories are the best tools for managing the meta-data about resources. XML is the best way to describe application/resource data for use on the Web. DSML is the markup language that provides the missing piece that allows these two to work together, and provides a common ground for all XML-based applications to make better use of directories.

Q: What is the difference between LDAP and DSML?
The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is intended to provide a means for accessing directory information. DSML provides the means for reading and understanding directory content in XML. So, DSML is actually very synergistic with LDAP.

Q: You say it's synergistic, but how?
DSML is an XML-Schema, not an access protocol. DSML still depends on an access protocol such as LDAP to get data from individual directories. DSML provides a standard for creating XML documents from the information that LDAP delivers.

Q: When will DSML-compatible products be available?
The Bowstreet Web Automation FactoryTM is the first commercial product to support DSML. Oracle has also announced that it has entered a joint development agreement with Siemens to create a new directory product based on DSML.

Q: How do consumers benefit from DSML-compliant Web businesses?
DSML will enable customers to use directory information from, and exchange directory information with, their customers and partners, regardless of the specific directories at the remote sites. DSML also fosters a new computing approach in which XML-enabled applications leverage business functionality and services, managed in directories and delivered via the Web.

Q: How does the DSML effort relate to the Directory Interoperability Forum?
These two efforts focus on different aspects of directory services standards. DSML is focused on specifying how directory content and structure is described using XML. DIF is focused on extending the core LDAP protocol to include more cross directory SDKs and synchronization. There is no dependency or overlap between the two efforts.

Q: Why are directories a good foundation for e-commerce Web applications?
Directory services provide an optimal way of naming, describing and finding information and resources while managing the relationship between the resources. Typically, directory services software stores and manages access to detailed information about a company's IT assets, including people and business processes and resources - for internal use. But analysts believe that directory services software is also the best way to store this type of information for expanding e-business or e-commerce purposes. Since directory services software offers high levels of security, location independence, granular access and easy replication, and combined with the advantages of XML, it can become a powerful enabler of e-commerce and e-business.

Directory services software is a mature, time-tested technology that's been in use in client/server environments for several years. So, many customers already have directories that can be extended to manage applications over extranets. All the leading directory service vendors - including Novell, IBM and Microsoft - are working on solutions that extend directories to e-business.

Q: What are DSML applications suited for?
DSML enables directories to support whole new classes of XML-based applications, such as:

  • e-commerce and e-business
  • Distributed Web Applications
  • Internet Native Network Management
  • Customer Support Federated Directory Management
  • Supply Chain Management

Q:How does DSML relate to XML?
DSML is an XML-Schema for representing Directory Services content and structure. An XML-Schema is a format for specifying rules covering the structure and content of XML documents. DSML will be defined using a Document Content Description (DCD) (see W3C-DCD spec at http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-dcd ).
XML (for eXtensible Markup Language) is widely considered to be the core language of e-business. It is a syntax that standardizes how task-focused information is shared across the Internet. XML provides for both context and interoperability of data, thereby enabling dynamic activities. Also, since XML is self-describing, specific XML-based applications can interact with each other without special programming to integrate them.

Q: How are directory services relevant to enterprise Web deployments?
Directories enable corporate computing resources - including information and users - to be dynamically and securely matched over networks. By mixing that capability with XML, highly intelligent extranets can enable customized applications to be created "on the fly" with minimal programming.

Q: How does DSML relate to Novell's DirXML?

DirXML is a technology built on top of Novell's NDS eDirectory. It exposes NDS change events (additions, modifications, deletions) through an XML interface. DirXML also has a query interface which allows you to query and retrieve NDS information in XML format.

DSML is an open, industry standard specification that describes how directory data should be represented in XML format. Novell has publicly stated that it will be supporting DSML.

Q: What is the difference between DSML and SOAP? The Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) defines the use of XML and HTTP to access services, objects, and servers in a platform-independent manner. It is designed as a programming protocol. DSML is a data definition specification which can be transported within SOAP.