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Last modified: February 21, 2007
XML Daily Newslink. Wednesday, 21 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:
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

OAXAL: Open Architecture for XML Authoring and Localization
Andrzej Zydron,

XML is now acknowledged as the best format for authoring technical documentation. Its wide support, extensible nature, separation of form and content, and ability to publish in a wide variety of output formats such as PDF, HTML, and RTF make it a natural choice. In addition, the costs associated with implementing an XML publishing solution have decreased significantly. Nevertheless, there are some clear DO's and DON'Ts when authoring in XML, some of which are detailed in 'Coping with Babel', a paper from the XML 2004 conference. XML, thanks to its extensible nature and rigorous syntax, has also spawned many standards that allow the exchange of information between different systems and organizations, as well as new ways of organizing, transforming, and reusing existing assets. For publishing and translation, this has created a new way of using and exploiting existing documentation assets, known as Open Architecture for XML Authoring and Localization (OAXAL). OAXAL takes advantage of the arrival of some core XML-related standards: (1) DITA—Darwin Information Typing Architecture from OASIS; (2) xml:tm—XML-based text memory from LISA OSCAR. DITA is a very well thought-out way of introducing object-oriented concepts into document construction. It introduces the concepts of reuse and granularity into publishing within an XML vocabulary. It is having a big impact on the document publishing industry. xml:tm is also a pivotal standard that provides a unified environment within which other localization standards can be meaningfully integrated, thus providing a complete environment for OAXAL. OAXAL allows system builders to create an elegant and integrated environment for document creation and localization. The OAXAL model provides full process automation, right up to delivering matched files to the translator. Automation eliminates the costs associated with project management and manual processes. Data gets processed faster and more efficiently and without the costs associated with a traditional localization workflow.

See also: the related paper (PDF)

Final Report: W3C Content Labels
Phil Archer and Jo Rabin, W3C Incubator Group Report

W3C announced that its Content Label Incubator Group (WCL XG) has published a final report, "W3C Content Labels." This report defines a data model for Content Labels through which identified parties can make assertions about the properties of a resource, or groups of resources. Specifically the report: (1) defines the requirements for Content Labels; (2) defines a data model for such labels; (3) describes how to establish relationships between labels and what they label; (4) begins to define a normative vocabulary relating to the creation and certification of labels—the making of assertions about other labels; (5) describes the principles behind determining the trustworthiness of the labels. The report identifies various areas which require further investigation and debate. The intention is that it forms a major input into a Working Group which would develop the ideas and create a W3C Recommendation. Initially, the group was chartered to look for "a way of making any number of assertions about a resource or group of resources" where those assertions should be testable in some way through automated means." It quickly became apparent that the terminology used in that summation needed to be refined and clarified; however it was possible to construct a set of use cases that amply demonstrates the aims in more detail. A set of high level requirements was derived from the use cases that were then formalized for this report. Based on group discussion it was possible to reformulate the output of the Web Content Labels Incubator Activity as defining: "A way of making any number of assertions, using any number of vocabularies, about a resource or group of resources. The assertions are open to automatic authentication based on available data such as who made the assertions and when." medical content labeling applications might be concerned with properties of the agencies and processes that produce Web content (e.g.. companies, people, and their credentials). Equally, a 'Mobile Web' application might need to determine the properties of various devices such as their screen dimensions, and those device types might be labeled with such properties by their manufacturer or by others. By contrast, a mobile content labeling application might be more concerned with different kinds of information resource and their particular (and varying) representations as streams of bytes. The Incubator Group is now seeking a charter to re-form as a full Working Group on the W3C Recommendation Track.

See also: the W3C Incubator Activity

Cisco Spends $135 Million on XML Firm
Marguerite Reardon, CNET

Cisco Systems said Wednesday it will spend $135 million in cash and options to buy Reactivity, a small company that makes equipment to help route XML Internet traffic. Reactivity's equipment is designed to help companies more easily and quickly deploy XML (Extensible Markup Language), a standard for Web documents. The company, which is based in Redwood City, Calif., was founded in 1998 and has 56 employees. Cisco said it expects the deal to close in its fiscal third quarter, which ends April 28. Cisco is the No. 1 provider of infrastructure equipment to companies large and small. The company's bread and butter has been the sale of Ethernet switches and IP routers, which are used to shuttle Internet traffic throughout corporate networks and across the open Internet. But in recent years, Cisco has been expanding its product portfolio in several different areas... Cisco isn't the only company buying up XML appliance start-ups. A year and a half ago, IBM, a longtime Cisco partner, bought a small company called DataPower, which also makes appliances to help companies deploy and manage XML Web services. Computer chipmaker Intel is also in this business with a company it bought in 2005 called Servaga. One of the reasons that specialized XML network appliances have emerged is because of the growing use of XML and XML-based Web services protocols. These standards are designed to allow for better interoperability between systems, but they also bring about performance problems from processing XML documents. Dedicated appliances can help alleviate those issues. According to the Cisco announcement: "Customers and major software providers are evolving their enterprise software architectures from a client-server paradigm to a service-oriented architecture. In addition, customers are deploying a variety of Web 2.0 capabilities that are collectively transforming the World Wide Web from a collection of relatively static web sites to a services rich computing platform. XML- and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)-based web services are becoming the de facto communications and information exchange standard for this new model of applications. Reactivity's industry leading XML gateways enable customers to efficiently deploy, secure, and accelerate XML and web services. The acquisition demonstrates Cisco's commitment to the expanding Application Networking Services (ANS) Advanced Technology segment, which is an important part of Cisco's Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) strategy and vision. Cisco ANS provides customers with shared application-aware services to improve the availability, performance, and security of applications delivered from the network platform. Reactivity complements and extends the capability of Cisco's ANS portfolio for these emerging application architectures."

See also: the announcement

Switch on SAML for PHP With Project Lightbulb
Pat Patterson and Marina Sum, Sun Developer Network

Lightbulb, an Open Web Single Sign-On (OpenSSO) subproject, aims to achieve federated identity for LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python, and Perl) and MARS (MySQL, Apache, Ruby, and the Solaris Operating System). Currently, Lightbulb offers a service provider (SP) written in PHP with Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0. This article elaborates on the SP code and describes how to enable Web applications that are also written in PHP with SAML 2.0. SAML 2.0 consists of a set of specifications for communicating information on user authentication, entitlement, and attributes. With SAML, you can configure SPs to permit access to resources only when an identity provider (IdP) has authenticated a user, thus enabling SSO between the IdP and the SPs. SAML 2.0 was approved by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) in March 2005. Presently, Lightbulb implements the SP role in SAML 2.0's Web browser SSO profile through the SAML redirect and POST bindings. To protect user privacy, SAML 2.0 can specify a pseudonym in the SAML Assertion's NameID element rather than the user's actual identifier (for example, the user name) at the IdP. That pseudonym, a string of characters typically randomly generated by the IdP, is known as a persistent (opaque) identifier -- the user's identifier in the context of the IdP-SP relationship. That way, neither provider knows the user's identifier at the other end. Furthermore, because the user has a different persistent identifier for each IdP-SP pair, SPs cannot correlate user accounts among themselves. The current, initial Lightbulb SP is structured as a simple sample PHP application, integrated with SAML's SP library code. A future article on Lightbulb will explain SAML's circle-of-trust concept and will describe how Lightbulb's single logout process terminates user sessions with all the members of a circle of trust. The Open Web SSO project (OpenSSO) provides core identity services to simplify the implementation of transparent single sign-on (SSO) as a security component in a network infrastructure. OpenSSO provides the foundation for integrating diverse web applications that might typically operate against a disparate set of identity repositories and are hosted on a variety of platforms such as web and application servers. [Note: At present, Lightbulb is experimental, so treat it as sample code only.]

See also: the Blog

It's a Saml World, After All
Eve Maler, Pushing String Blog

"Nope, that's not a typo. I kept thinking about that silly tune when I saw the panel assembled for an RSA conference session called 'SAML 2.0—Standard-of-Choice in the Public Sector', hosted by Brett McDowell. The speakers represented identity management initiatives in the US, Denmark, Finland, and the UK. I thought it would be interesting to share what I heard... [excerpts] (1) Soren Peter Nielsen, representing the Denmark State Services Commission - 'Based on these requirements, picking SAML 2.0 really was a slam-dunk decision. The fact that the US GSA E-Authentication Initiative chose SAML was one factor in Denmark's choice.' (2) Tero Pernu, representing the Finnish Board of Taxes - 'The Finnish case study is a bit more broader than the Danish one. This one includes also the Liberty Identity Web Service Framework. SAML2 was attractive partly because of its layered security model: transport and message security. It also has a strong developer community, which welcomed Finnish tax board participation. Katso is the nickname for the nationwide Finnish authentication system.' (3) Brett McDowell (BMcD)- 'This panel will discuss why governments are deploying SAML2 for federation, and we'll explore the use of open standards to meet regulatory requirements. Governments are one example of an enterprise. SAML2 was the result of convergence of SAML V1.x, Liberty ID-FF, and Internet2 Shibboleth. The market has been growing around SAML. One clear driver has been the Liberty Interoperable program, with about 80 certifications made through it so far. Deployers can request Liberty Interoperable certification in their RFPs. Over 1 billion identities and devices are Liberty-enabled.'..."

See also: SAML references

W3C Renews Internationalization Activity, Launches Architecture Group
Staff, W3C Announcement

W3C has announced the renewal of the Internationalization (I18n) Activity and the launch of a new Internationalization Architecture Working Group chaired by Francois Yergeau (Invited Expert). The Internationalization (I18n) Architecture Working Group, part of the Internationalization Activity, is now chartered to move forward work on the "Character Model for the World Wide Web" and on "Language Tags and Locale Identifiers for the World Wide Web." Based on the "Character Model for the World-Wide Web 1.0: Fundamentals", the Character Model Architectural Specifications provide authors of specifications, software developers, and content developers with a common reference on the use of normalization of text and string identity matching, and the use of resource identifiers building on the Universal Character Set on the Web. The goal of these specifications is to improve interoperable text manipulation on the World Wide Web. The Working Group will describe how document formats, specifications, and implementations should handle the language tags described by "Tags for the Identification of Languages" by completing "Language Tags and Locale Identifiers for the World Wide Web." Also, the charters of the Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) Working Group chaired by Yves Savourel (Enlaso) and the Internationalization Interest Group chaired by Martin Duerst (Invited Expert) have been extended.

See also: the W3C news item

Using Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE for Web Services
William Brogden, TechTarget

Microsoft has a long history of providing excellent IDEs (Integrated Development Environment) for various supported languages. The current Visual Studio 2005 version supports development in the following languages: Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual C++ and Visual J#. It also supports editing of HTML, CSS and JScript (Microsoft's version of JavaScript). Naturally the emphasis is on Microsoft's .NET framework -- Microsoft products such as the IIS Web server, SQL Server database, and the Windows operating system in all its various forms. The Windows Communication Framework, or WCF, has been under development for years in a project previously codenamed Indigo. WCF is intended to support reliable and secure communication using industry standard SOAP and related XML standards within a single computer or across multiple networked computers. Interoperability with applications outside the .NET Framework is ensured by adherence to standards created by the Web Service Interoperability Organization (WS-I) such as WS-Addressing and WS-Security. WCF is intended to support distributed applications that are not tightly coupled, but are dynamic and service-oriented. By sticking to existing standards such as SOAP, WSDL and schema, there should be maximum backwards compatibility with existing distributed applications. The first version of Visual Studio appeared ten years ago, but it has evolved far beyond that initial version. Starting a new Web service project using the WCF guidance templates creates skeleton code for what Visual Studio calls data contracts, fault contracts, service contracts and service implementation interfaces, plus skeleton code for business entities and business logic. A data contract describes exactly the data items that will be exchanged in messages and can be generated from an existing XML Schema, or from an existing data type defined in a C# class. For all of these components, the guidance package provides detailed suggestions for how to proceed by invoking various wizard dialogs. In a similar way, fault contracts describe exactly how errors will be mapped to SOAP fault messages. Service contracts describe exactly the functions that a service will expose and the service implementation interface defines the functions required. Expanding the skeleton code and modifying the default settings of various attributes as provided by the templates is an order of magnitude time-saver for the programmer over generating the files by hand.

Creating an XForms-based Logo Generator
Nicholas Chase, IBM developerWorks

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) provides an easy way to declaratively create an image using XML, and XForms provides an easy way to edit XML. In this article we put the two together to create an XForms-based XVG editor for creating SVG images such as logos. Although you might imagine that the editing of an XForms form and having an SVG image in the browser window update automatically, it is not that easy. But that doesn't mean it can't be done. This article shows you how to create an XForms-based logo generator using SVG. The code in this article has been tested with Firefox and the Mozilla XForms extension, but the concepts should apply to any XForms implementation. In this example, we want a form that enables us to edit the properties of existing shapes, or to remove those shapes altogether. We also want to be able to add new shapes, edit those shapes, and save the data to a logo file. Once you've done that, we want to be able to see the changes right there on the page. What you learn in this exercise is that you can use XForms' ability to insert new elements and copy information into them in order to add new content. You can also use XForms' traditional element- and attribute-editing capabilities to alter the properties of SVG objects. From there, you can save the data to a file and view changes to the file. In a production environment, you will want to make several changes. For one thing, you'll want each individual user to have his or her own logo.XML file, probably based on a unique username. You might want to expand the users' choice of shapes, or the properties available for editing. You might also provide a way to download a non-SVG version of the logo, such as in a PDF or PNG file.

See also: XML and Forms

Interview with Sanjiva Weerawarana: Debunking REST/WS-* Myths
Stefan Tilkov, InfoQ

Sanjiva Weerawarana founded WSO2 after having spent nearly 8 years in IBM Research, where he was one of the founders of the Web services platform. During that time, he co-authored many Web services specifications including WSDL, BPEL4WS, WS-Addressing, WS-RF and WS-Eventing. He lead the creation of IBM SOAP4J, which was released just 2 days after the SOAP 1.1 specification was released and which later became Apache SOAP. He went on to architect and implement many other products, including Apache Axis, Apache WSIF, the IBM Web Services Gateway and IBM BPWS4J, a BPEL4WS implementation, and was a key driver of IBMs Web services technical strategy. From the interview: [Do you think the REST vs. WS-* views can be consolidated?] "The real question is whether resource oriented architectures and service oriented architecture are one and the same. I assert that they're not: given a distributed systems problem one can develop solutions using either approach and the artifacts that result would be radically different. True REST applications are resource oriented. WS-* is used to implement service oriented architectures. So its not that one's wrong and the other is right, but rather that they're different. The great marketing coup that REST folks are trying to pull off is that WS-* is complex and REST is simple. That's just nonsense- if you really try to build the type of systems that people build with WS-* using REST, then you'd end up just as complex. At the same time, many scenarios do not need all of WS-* for their interactions. That's where the intersection lies- new stacks like WSO2 WSAS and Apache Axis2, which are essentially driven by WSDL 2.0, offer full support for POX style services and also for HTTP GET. The resulting systems would not necessarily be RESTful but they have the same simplicity advantages that REST offers. And the best part is, the way we've designed the programming model and the infrastructure, one can write a service once and offer a POX binding, a GET binding, a SOAP/WS-* binding and even a JSON binding without writing a line of code. To me that's the way to go forward- take the best of both worlds and mash them together rather than getting caught up in either religion!


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