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Last modified: February 22, 2007
XML Daily Newslink. Thursday, 22 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.

W3C Forms Protocol for Web Description Resources (POWDER) Working Group
Staff, W3C Announcement

W3C has announced the launch of a new "Protocol for Web Description Resources (POWDER) Working Group" in the Semantic Web Activity. Phil Archer (ICRA) will chair the group, which is chartered through 31-March-2008. The WG will develop a way for structured metadata, called "Description Resources," to be authenticated, applied to groups of Web resources, and retrieved independently of the resources. The POWDER Working Group is chartered to specify an RDF vocabulary for specifying authorship of and authentication of Description Resources, a specification for associating a Description Resource with a class of Web resources, predicates for declaring classes of resources based on string functions of the resource URIs, and a protocol for accessing Description Resources. The POWDER Working Group will base its work on the output of the WCL Incubator Group. In its final report the Incubator Group presents a data model for descriptions and lists 17 open questions. The POWDER Working Group will resolve such questions as are necessary to complete its deliverables. They include how a description for a resource applies or does not apply to elements included within that resource (for example, an image in an HTML page), the detail of how to link resources to descriptions, how to resolve any conflicts in the description's data, and several relating to the mechanism for grouping resources ("label scope"). This last area is a vital aspect of the POWDER model but has wider applicability, for example in the Evaluation and Report Language (EARL), P3P's Policy Reference File (P3P) and in the functionality offered by robots.txt. Once the open questions have been resolved, the major tasks of the Working Group will be to define a generalized method of specifying classes of resources as functions of the URI string as well as other RDF properties, an HTTP-based method of associating metadata with those classes of resources, and the encoding and exchanging of Description Resources.

See also: the W3C Semantic Web Activity

Last Call Working Draft Review for XForms 1.1
John M. Boyer (ed), W3C Technical Report

W3C's XForms Working Group has published a Last Call Working Draft for the "XForms 1.1" specification, and invites public comment through 05-April-2007. Web applications and electronic commerce solutions have sparked the demand for better Web forms with richer interactions. XForms is the response to this demand, and provides a new platform-independent markup language for online interaction between a person (through an XForms Processor) and another, usually remote, agent. XForms are the successor to HTML forms, and benefit from the lessons learned from HTML forms. XForms is not a free-standing document type, but is intended to be integrated into other markup languages, such as XHTML or SVG. An XForms-based web form gathers and processes XML data using an architecture that separates presentation, purpose and content. The underlying data of a form is organized into instances of data schema (though formal schema definitions are not required). An XForm allows processing of data to occur using three mechanisms: (1) a declarative model composed of formulae for data calculations and constraints, data type and other property declarations, and data submission parameters (2) a view layer composed of intent-based user interface controls (3) an imperative controller for orchestrating data manipulations, interactions between the model and view layers, and data submissions. Thus, XForms accommodates form component reuse, fosters strong data type validation, eliminates unnecessary round-trips to the server, offers device independence and reduces the need for scripting. XForms 1.1 refines the XML processing platform introduced in XForms 1.0 by adding several new submission capabilities, action handlers, utility functions, user interface improvements, and helpful datatypes as well as a more powerful action processing facility, including conditional, iterated and background execution, the ability to manipulate data arbitrarily and to access event context information.

See also: XML and Forms

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) Signatures
Eric Allman, Jon Callas (et al.), IETF Internet Draft

The IESG has announced the approval of the "DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) Signatures" specification as a Proposed Standard. The document has been produced by members of the IETF Domain Keys Identified Mail Working Group. Acording to the announcement, the DKIM working group spent a good deal of effort refining this specification, along with the preceding DKIM threats document. This document represents the broad consensus of the DKIM working group. The protocol is a result of work over about one-and-a-half years prior to its introduction to the IETF, and one-half year since. There are three or four implementations of current protocol specification, and the implementations are shown to interoperate. DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) defines a domain-level authentication framework for email using public-key cryptography and key server technology to permit verification of the source and contents of messages by either Mail Transfer Agents (MTAs) or Mail User Agents (MUAs). The ultimate goal of this framework is to permit a signing domain to assert responsibility for a message, thus protecting message signer identity and the integrity of the messages they convey while retaining the functionality of Internet email as it is known today. Protection of email identity may assist in the global control of "spam" and "phishing".

See also: the associated DKIM web site

Metadata Big Bang
Norman Walsh, Blog

Semantic web enthusiasts among my readers will have encountered the "hash vs. slash" debate, perhaps most famously in the TAG's attempt to resolve the range of HTTP: URIs. When I first started this weblog, I knew it was going to be built on top of a semantic web framework, not out of any fervent belief that it's the future, but out of the conviction that I won't be able to say whether or not I think it's the future if I don't try it out. I also knew about the hash vs. slash debate. While I was never entirely convinced by the arguments of the "anti-slash" camp, I decided to simply avoid the issue by using a hash. There's never been any argument about hashed URIs, only slashed ones. If you dereferenced the [hashed] URI, the server would send you the whole 'who' file that contained all the metadata about everyone. That file got to be big....linking to the hashed URI made following the link way too expensive to be of practical value. I could have cooked up an alternate URI for the link group, but that would effectively have been an alias. Aliases: bad. Unable to come up with a workaround I liked, I decided it was time for a big bang: I decided to change a whole lot of URIs. Instead of using a hashed URI to identify me (and everyone and everything else), I'd use a slashed one... In order to do this, I felt I needed to implement the TAG resolution on httpRange-14. Which I've done. Hopefully this all 'just works' in every meaningful way.

See also: httpRange-14

Raytheon to Construct N-Dex
Wilson P. Dizard III, Washington Technology

Raytheon Co. of Waltham, MA has been awarded a contract from the FBI to build out the National Data Exchange (N-Dex) law enforcement information-sharing system, sources said. According to a bureau official, FBI systems specialists expect to meet with their Raytheon counterparts within the next two weeks to plan the IT work leading up to the N-Dex system rollout. N-Dex uses advanced information sharing that harmonizes data entered into various types of law enforcement systems for common search, acquisition and analysis. N-Dex acts as a counterpart to R-Dex, a regional data exchange system that provides a pointer to the location of specific information held by other law enforcement agencies. Technical descriptions of the N-Dex project emphasize its use of standards such as the Global Justice XML Data Model and the National Information Exchange Model to foster information sharing. The Justice Department likely will provide funds for N-Dex during 2007 and 2008, and the FBI will assume funding responsibility in 2009 and later, sources said. N-Dex is intended to facilitate data analysis and the detection of links among people and places, as well as events such as crimes, objects such as weapons, drugs and currency, and gangs to help intelligence analysis. The project has progressed for about six years under the auspices of the bureau's National Criminal Information Services Division in Clarksburg, W.Va. FBI officials have worked with their counterparts in many federal agencies as well as states and cities to create the framework and standards for the system. The N-Dex likely will begin full-scale operation in about a year.

See also: GJXDM

Out of Step: National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and N-DEx
Neil Kurlander, XML Journal

This article looks at two federal data-sharing initiatives: the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and the National Data Exchange (N-DEx). Each offers new information-sharing capabilities and each faces major challenges. Is universal sharing of information between governmental agencies actually doable? NIEM is an ambitious new initiative that is taking a giant step towards making the dream of government-wide data interoperability a reality. NIEM is a joint effort of the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice. Its mission is to create the means to seamlessly exchange information electronically between multiple governmental agencies. NIEM will be designed to bridge the divides between Justice, Health, Transportation, Intelligence, and other domains. It will build upon the successful implementation of the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXML), which has already provided the means to tie together data between all federal, state, local, and tribal agencies in the justice community. One major objective the NIEM is to prevent the creation of XML information silos. While GJXDM has become the standard for interoperability in the justice domain, other domains such as homeland security, emergency management, health and human services, and transportation each have unique business rules and information-sharing standards that are domain-specific. To prevent domain silos, NIEM will provide the framework, architecture, security, and metadata controls necessary to assure that interoperability between domains will not be compromised. It will also develop domain-data dictionaries and schemas to meet the business needs of each community. The National Data Exchange (N-DEx) and Regional Data Exchanges (R-DEx) are two NISS initiatives by the FBI to improve the sharing of information among law enforcement agencies. Information concerning criminal suspects including, their method of operation, the vehicles they use, their accomplices, phone numbers, addresses, weapons used, and many additional factors are shared locally and in some cases regionally, but currently there is no national system for automatically sharing investigative data from law enforcement records-management software.

Google Takes a Swipe at Microsoft Office
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, eWEEK

Google is now offering everyone from families to enterprises a bundle of its Google Docs and Spreadsheets; Google Calendar; Gmail; Google Talk; Google Page Creator, a simple Web page authoring tool; and a Start Page to bring all these applications together. Individually, there's nothing new here. All of these Google applications have been around for more than a year now. Each of them brings at least basic office functionality to its particular area. Thus, Google Talk is an excellent IM (instant message) and VOIP (voice over IP) client. Google Docs and Spreadsheets combines basic word processor and spreadsheet functionality with the ability for multiple users to work on a single document. Between them, Gmail and Google Calendar duplicate much of Microsoft Outlook's features and so on. Collectively, Google is offering businesses a 99.9 percent update SLA (service-level agreement) in which customers will receive credits for downtime, a one-stop user interface to all of its functionality and centralized management. On top of this, with the $50-per-user-a-year Premium Edition, enterprises get 10GB of e-mail storage per user, as well as API (application programming interfaces) to enable data migration, mail gateways, user provisioning and single sign-on to enable businesses to customize their Google services. Google Apps doesn't have anything like the full functionality of Microsoft Office. In particular, it has no answer to PowerPoint. But, as for the rest, for the bread and butter of day-to-day business life, Google Apps does give most users all the functionality they need. Can you do advanced spreadsheets with multiple macros with Google Spreadsheets? Nope. Can you put together an employee expense report? A time sheet? A departmental budget? Yes, yes and yes. Now consider the cost. Google Apps is $50 per user per year. An upgrade to Microsoft Office Professional 2007 starts at $329.95. Of course, there are multiple discounts, but you're not likely to get a legal copy for anything close to $50.

See also: the announcement

SA Government to Switch to Open Source
Staff, Tectonic

The South African Cabinet today announced that it had approved a free and open source strategy and that government would migrate its current software to free and open source software. At a Cabinet media briefing government said that it had "approved a policy and strategy for the implementation of free and open source software (FOSS) in government. In a statement the cabinet said "all new software developed for or by the government will be based on open standards and government will itself migrate current software to FOSS. This strategy will, among other things, lower administration costs and enhance local IT skills." Government plans to set up a FOSS project office by April this year. The office will be established by the department of ccience and technology, the CSIR and the State Information Technology Agency (Sita). South Africa joins governments in other emerging markets like Brazil, China, Spain, India and Malaysia in adopting open source software, with proponents of Linux arguing that the free software could help slash the cost of getting computers into schools, homes and community centres.


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