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Standards body vies for XML lobbying group
--------------------------------------------------------- By Brian Hannon, PC Week Online

XML holds promise as EDI replacement

Berners-Lee upbeat on XML

XML gains momentum

XML unearths missing link

XML to spruce up sites

W3C releases XML 1.0 spec

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards is in negotiations with DataChannel Inc. to take over management of the XML Active Content Technologies council.

If the deal goes through, the 21-member X-ACT council, consisting of software development companies and users, will become a subsidiary of OASIS, a nonprofit group in Madison, Ala., that promotes SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) and XML (Extensible Markup Language) products and development, sources said.

X-ACT was founded by Seattle-based DataChannel in March.

The deal would enable X-ACT to be a more neutral authority on XML and provide a central place for users to go for XML education, draft submissions and demo showcases, sources said.

OASIS provides tutorials, establishes working groups and helps set interoperability standards for SGML, a parent of XML.

OASIS also is negotiating with a third party to provide X-ACT with an XML-driven Web site, training and interoperability testing, sources said.

The new role for OASIS received mixed reactions.

"I think it offers great potential to affect market development," said Mary Laplante, director at Norwell, Mass., consulting company Cap Ventures Inc. and a former executive with OASIS when it was known as SGML-Open.

But J.P. Morgenthal, an analyst at NC.Focus, a Hewlett, N.Y., consulting firm, said the addition of OASIS is negligible.

"I wouldn't say it gives any more credibility" to X-ACT, Morgenthal said. X-ACT "has never given anyone any reason to believe they're anything other than an empty group," he said. Both organizations need to define "what they are going to deliver as value [to the XML industry]."

In related news, XML Exchange, a free Web site designed by XMLSolutions LLC, went online at www.xmlx.com last week. The site will provide a forum and repository for XML Document Type Definitions, officials said.

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