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Last modified: February 06, 2007
XML Daily Newslink. Tuesday, 06 February 2007

A Cover Pages Publication
Provided by OASIS and Sponsor Members
Edited by Robin Cover

This issue of XML Daily Newslink is sponsored by:
IBM Corporation

XUL-Enhanced Web Applications
Cedric Savarese,

XUL (XML User Interface Language), according to the Mozilla Developer Center web page, is "Mozilla's XML-based language that lets you build feature-rich cross platform applications that can run connected or disconnected from the Internet. These applications are easily customized with alternative text, graphics and layout so they can be readily branded or localized for various markets. Web developers already familiar with Dynamic HTML (DHTML) will learn XUL quickly and can start building applications right away." This article by Cedric Savarese presents a little-known use of XUL and shows how to take advantage of its superior performance and accessibility over HTML while maintaining cross-browser compatibility. He illustrates this using a proof-of-concept JavaScript library that can render UI widgets using either XUL or DHTML. The most obvious drawback to XUL is that it is not supported by most browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera...). Any web application relying on XUL needs to fall back on DHTML widgets for cross-browser compatibility. So the question is not about choosing XUL or DHTML, but if XUL and DHTML is a worthy development approach. The last thing a developer wants is to maintain two different code-bases to support different browsers. There are plenty of DHMTL-based widget libraries (you may also call them JavaScript or Ajax widgets). Yahoo's YUI Library, Dojo's widgets, Adobe's Spry to name just a few, so why would you want to bother with XUL? XUL widgets are faster, more accessible, and come with more built-in behaviors than their DHTML counterparts. Simply put, with XUL the user experience feels much more like a desktop application than a web-based one. The difference in performance is more striking with complex widgets, as one can see by comparing a DHTML tree with a XUL tree. The proof-of-concept library (hXUL) described here implements the tabbed panel and tree widgets in both XUL and DHTML (including the drag and drop for the tree), and is available for download. With such a library, any developer could deliver a XUL-enhanced application with a fast and accessible user interface for Firefox users without sacrificing cross-browser compatibility.

See also: the XUL web site

W3C Publishes Revised CSS3 Working Drafts
Hakon Wium Lie and Ian Hickson (eds), W3C Technical Reports

W3C's CSS Working Group has announced the release of two updated CSS3 Working draft specifications. The "CSS3 Module: Generated Content for Paged Media" module describes features often used in printed publications. In particular, this specification describes how CSS style sheets can express named strings, leaders, cross-references, footnotes, endnotes, running headers and footers, named flows, new counter styles, page and column floats, hyphenation, bookmarks, change bars, continuation markers, named page lists, and generated lists. Along with two other CSS3 modules—multicolumn layout and paged media -- this module offers advanced functionality for presenting structured documents on paged media. The Working Draft "Behavioral Extensions to CSS" provides a way to link to binding technologies, such as XBL (XML Binding Language 2.0), from CSS style sheets. This allows bindings to be selected using the CSS cascade, and thus enables bindings to transparently benefit from the user style sheet mechansim, media selection, and alternate style sheets. A CSS UA is not expected to support this module unless it also supports a binding language such as XBL. A user agent cannot comply to this specification without also supporting one or more binding languages such as XBL. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allows designers to create attractive, economical, and flexible Web sites. Using a simple declarative style, designers can set positioning, margins and alignment, layering, colors, text styling, list numbering, and much more. Furthermore, writing direction, font styles, and other conventions differ from one written language to another. CSS supports an increasing number of different typographic traditions and has made significant progress toward being able to display multilingual documents. CSS has various levels and profiles. In general, desktop browsers implement level 1, 2 or 3. Other programs implement the appropriate profile for their platform, whether mobile phone, PDA, television, printer, speech synthesizer, or other device. CSS level 3 promises more power features at the same time it will make CSS easier to implement and use. CSS3 includes all of level 2 and adds new selectors, rich hypertext, more powerful borders and backgrounds, vertical text, user interaction (e.g., styling of XForms), speech, rendering on multimedia devices, and more.

See also: Behavioral Extensions to CSS

Oracle Submits Identity Framework to Liberty Alliance
Jeremy Kirk, InfoWorld

InfoWorld reports that "Oracle has released a technology and policy blueprint for how organizations can exchange sensitive identity information among applications. Oracle has given the Identity Governance Framework (IGF) to the Liberty Alliance, a consortium that develops standards for Web-services applications, said Brett McDowell, Liberty's executive director. It was developed with support from vendors such as CA, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, and Novell. The IGF will be used to develop technical standards for how identity information is stored and shared across systems. Over the coming months, Liberty will gather more technical requirements from users, McDowell said. Around June [2007], a Liberty technical group will test the specifications before the final phase, interoperability testing, he said. Oracle made the IGF available to Liberty royalty-free so it can be used without licensing barriers in a wider range of products, McDowell said. The IGF includes components such as: (1) Client Attribute Requirement Markup Language (CARML) and schema: an XML-based contract defined by application developers that informs deployment managers and service providers about the usage requirements of an application. (2) Attribute Authority Policy Markup Language (AAPML): a set of policy rules regarding the use of identity-related information that allow sources to specify constraints on use of data. (3) CARML API: an application programming interface that makes it easier for developers to write applications that consume and use identity-related data in a way that conforms to policies.

See also: the IGF web site

RSA 2007: Microsoft Marries CardSpace and OpenID 2.0
Dan Farber, ZDNet Blog

With the Vista launch behind him, Bill Gates and Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer and security patron, were on stage the 16th annual RSA Conference in San Francisco before a crowd of about 15,000 security geeks and professionals. After spending 45 minutes talking about security in general, most of which the crowd was familiar with, Gates and Mundie announced support for OpenID 2.0, marrying CardSpace and OpenID as Mundie expressed it. "At the security level interoperability is fundamental," Gates said. From the joint announcement by JanRain, SXIP Identity, VeriSign and Microsoft, as posted by Kim Cameron: JanRain, Microsoft, Sxip, and VeriSign will collaborate on interoperability between OpenID and Windows CardSpace to make the Internet safer and easier to use. Specifically: (1) As part of OpenID's security architecture, OpenID will be extended to allow relying parties to explicitly request and be informed of the use of phishing-resistant credentials. (2) Microsoft recognizes the growth of the OpenID community and believes OpenID plays a significant role in the Internet identity infrastructure. Kim Cameron, Chief Architect of Identity at Microsoft, will work with the OpenID community on authentication and anti-phishing. (3) JanRain, Sxip, and VeriSign recognize that Information Cards provide significant anti-phishing, privacy, and convenience benefits to users. Information Cards, based on the open WS-Trust standard, are available though Windows CardSpace. (4) JanRain and Sxip, leading providers of open source code libraries for blogging and web sites, are announcing they will add support for the Information Cards to their OpenID code bases. (5) JanRain, Sxip and VeriSign plan to add Information Card support to future identity solutions. (6) Microsoft plans to support OpenID in future Identity server products (7) The four companies have agreed to work together on a 'Using Information Cards with OpenID' profile that will make it possible for other developers and service providers to take advantage of these technology advancements.

See also: Kim Cameron's Blog

webMethods Unites with Other Industry Leaders in Interop Vendor Alliance
Staff, webMethods Announcement

webMethods, Inc., a leading business integration and optimization software company, announced that it has joined the Interop Vendor Alliance. webMethods will be working with Microsoft, the initiator of this collaborative effort, and other key vendors, including BEA Systems, CA, EMC, GXS, Software AG, and Sun Microsystems, to simplify integration and improve interoperability with Microsoft-based solutions. webMethods' participation in the alliance is driven by the company's long-term commitment to common standards and shared best practices as a means for overcoming the complexity associated with heterogeneous systems. Marc Breissinger, webMethods Chief Technology Officer: "As customers seek to leverage service-oriented architecture to reduce development costs while improving business agility, the need for real-world solutions for achieving more universal interoperability becomes paramount; we view the Interop Vendor Alliance as an excellent forum for helping to address this goal as it recognizes the widespread influence of Microsoft technology within Global 2000 enterprises." The Interop Vendor Alliance is designed to better connect people, data and diverse systems through enhanced interoperability with Microsoft technology. The organization serves as a collaborative forum for developing and sharing common technology models, facilitates scenario-based testing of multi-vendor solutions, and works to communicate additional best practices to users. Through its continuing participation in key standards groups, including the W3C, OASIS and the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) Organization, webMethods has aided the development and advancement of key Web services standards such as SOAP 1.2, WS-BPEL 2.0, XML Schema, WSDL 2.0, UDDI, WS-Addressing, WS-Policy, WS-Notification and WS-RX. webMethods' long-term collaboration with Microsoft includes the recent development of the WS-MetadataExchange and WS-Discovery specifications.

See also: the Interop Vendor Alliance

Get a Handle on the JAX-WS API's Handler Framework
Young Yang, JavaWorld Magazine

The handler framework in the Java API for XML Web Services (JAX-WS) allows applications to address cross-cutting and/or system-level concerns by opening the service and client runtimes for applications to plug in modular components. Reusability of these components across the services portfolio is one obvious benefit that this framework brings to service delivery. This mechanism also allows the separation of the most fundamental concerns of application software in Web services development, effectively abstracting the system service into handlers and leaving the clients and services to focus on business logic. In this article, I describe how the JAX-WS handler framework works and demonstrate, with examples, how to work with some of its most useful features. In JAX-WS, handlers are associated with services, and the specification leaves the handler deployment architecture for developers to decide, depending on the implementation. SOAP engines implementing JAX-WS tend to bundle a service with its handlers as a single deployment unit. This may make sense for handlers processing service-specific logic. However, for more generic handlers, this practice makes reuse across services inconvenient and unnecessarily complicates the packaging and deployment of Web services reusing such handlers. Following a different approach, Apache Axis2 deploys modules, which serve more or less the same purpose as handlers in JAX-WS, directly into the SOAP engine (instead of attaching them to services), and then associates services and their operations with those modules through a configuration file. I have always believed this should be the preferred deployment architecture for components serving cross-cutting concerns and hope a future version of JAX-WS will follow a similar approach when standardizing handler deployment.

See also: Java API for XML-Based Web Services (JAX-WS) 2.0

Jobs to Music Industry: Drop DRM
Staff, Reuters

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs today called on the four major record companies to start selling songs online without copy protection software known as digital rights management. Jobs said there appeared to be no benefit for the record companies, which sell more than 90% of their music without DRM on compact discs while selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system. "If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies," he said... Apple is due to reopen talks with the four majors in early March to discuss the terms of their relationships with the iTunes Music Store, according to a source familiar with the discussions. The four major players in the industry—Vivendi's Universal Music Group; Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which is owned by Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG; EMI Group; and Warner Music Group -- all negotiated one-year extensions with Apple last year, according to the source. DRM critics, particularly at independent music companies, have intensified calls in recent months for the companies to sell their music without copy protection.

See also: XML Standards and DRM

Texas, Minnesota Eye Move to ODF
Elizabeth Montalbano, InfoWorld

Texas and Minnesota may become the second and third U.S. states to adopt ODF (Open Document Format for XML) as the standard file format for government documents instead of the file format that Microsoft uses in its Office 2007 software suite. Two separate bills up for legislative consideration in each state propose to mandate the use of an open, XML-based file format that is "interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications; fully published and available royalty-free; implemented by multiple vendors; and controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard," according to the Minnesota House of Representatives bill; the Texas bill uses similar wording to describe the file format the states intend to support. The Minnesota bill proposes that the mandate would take effect beginning July 1, 2008, while the Texas bill gives the state's Department of Information Resources until Sept. 1, 2008 to develop a plan for the transition. Though the bills do not specifically name ODF as the document format under consideration, the explanation of what each state wants to move to seems to fit the standard. ODF is an industry standard supported by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is available for free, and is supported by several vendors in their office suites, including IBM, Sun, and Google. Currently, Massachusetts is implementing a plan using ODF as the standard format for all state agency documents. Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to adopt ODF. Microsoft also has submitted Open XML as a global standard, and it is currently before the ISO for approval. If approved and adopted by companies other than Microsoft, it could theoretically fall under the description of an open, XML-based file format as outlined in the Texas and Minnesota bills. Novell plans to implement Open XML in its version of OpenOffice, and Corel plans support for Open XML in its WordPerfect Office software.


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