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Last modified: February 27, 2007
XML Daily Newslink. Tuesday, 27 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:
BEA Systems, Inc.

OWL 1.1 Web Ontology Language Submitted to W3C for New Working Group
W3C Members, Submission Request to W3C

SRI International, TopQuadrant, University of Manchester, and webMethods, Inc. have submitted a 6-part "OWL 1.1 Web Ontology Language" specification to W3C with a request that the Consortium consider this technical material as a starting point for work in a new W3C Working Group. OWL 1.1 extends the W3C OWL Web Ontology Language with a small but useful set of features that have been requested by users, for which effective reasoning algorithms are now available, and that OWL tool developers are willing to support. The new features include extra syntactic sugar, additional property and qualified cardinality constructors, extended datatype support, simple metamodelling, and extended annotations. The initial design of the W3C OWL Web Ontology Language (OWL) was conservative in several ways. Constructs that did not have considerable support from within the W3C Web Ontology Working Group were not included. Constructs for which effective reasoning methods were not known or expected to be known in future were also not included. Usage of OWL, particularly the OWL DL species of OWL, has identified several constructs that are of considerable utility and that fit well within the representation philosophy of OWL DL. Advances in the theory of Description Logics have provided a basis for reasoning with constructs that are not part of OWL, or not part of OWL DL. For both these reasons, it was decided at the first "OWL: Experiences and Directions" workshop to design an extension to the OWL DL species of OWL. The extension is designed to provide simple extensions to OWL DL that have been requested by major users of OWL DL, have effective reasoning methods, as evidenced by theoretical results, and are expected to be implemented by the developers of OWL DL reasoners... The OWL 1.1 specification does not extend the RDF-compatible semantics for of OWL to cover the new features of OWL 1.1. Complete reasoning in OWL Full is intractable (it is estimated to be as hard as first-order logic, where there is provably no decision procedure for determining for an arbitrary formula P, whether P is valid). Complete reasoning in OWL DL and OWL 1.1 is tractable, but the expressivity is limited; the domain of discourse is constrained so that individuals, classes, and properties are separated. OWL 1.1 extends the expressivity of OWL and its RDF/XML syntax is less constrained than OWL DL, though still subject to a regularity syntactic restriction. The W3C Staff Comment (by Dan Connolly) indicates that W3C welcomes public discussion of: (1) designs for extending the RDF-compatible semantics of OWL to cover OWL 1.1 features, (2) the role of the various tractable fragments, and (3) deployment strategies for a possible new version of OWL.

See also: the W3C Team Comment

TopQuadrant's Developer Tool Targets Semantic Web
David Needle,

Companies looking to tap the benefits of the so-called Semantic Web have a new development tool to consider. TopQuadrant said its TopBraid Composer 2.0, released today, seamlessly supports multiple inference (or reasoning) engines and mash-up facilities. The idea behind the Semantic Web is to give data more meaning through the use of metadata, which describes how, when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how that data is formatted. Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, has referred to the Semantic Web as being like a great big database." With a commonality or at least understanding of data types, new applications like mash-ups and knowledge management can be created that link multiple sources of information. This can be a huge asset to corporations and other large organization where information sources have evolved from different silos, According to Dean Allemang (TopQuadrant). The TopBraid Composer 2.0 modeling toolset supports Semantic Web standard languages RDF/S and OWL, including OWL 1.1 extensions. TopQuadrant said its Eclipse-based TopBraid Composer 2.0 allows, for the first time, Semantic Web applications to be developed with unique, flexible and user-customizable hybrid reasoning that allows rules, queries and description logic to be combined to solve significant business problems. One TopQuadrant customer, an engineering firm, estimates it generates 20,000 new documents a day: "They're trying to figure out how to keep up; sure, you can use Google or other search engines, but these are engineering documents that come out of a structured workflow. A lot of the documents look alike; you have to read three or four paragraphs in to figure out what's different." But the metadata behind those documents is readily identifiable, and that's what an application designed with TopBraid Composer is designed to look for. TopQuadrant, which started out and continues to offer consulting services, lists Intel, NASA, General Motors, the FAA and the General Services Administration among its customers. Nova Spivack, CEO and founder of Radar Networks [said] Radar Networks, currently in stealth mode, is building what it describes as a major new Web 3.0 online service that will bring the Semantic Web to consumers.

See also: the TopQuadrant knowledge base

Ontology-Based Navigation of Bibliographic Metadata
Margherita Sini, Gauri Salokhe, et al., FAO Report

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations announced the publication of a new paper in the FAO Document Repository: "Ontology-based Navigation of Bibliographic Metadata: Example of the Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Journal." The paper describes the work done within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on providing an ontology-based navigation to the Food, Nutrition and Agriculture (FNA) Journal. The aim of the revised navigation was to provide more efficient and effective browsing of the Food and Nutrition Publications using a knowledge model to guide the user with concepts and relationships relevant to a specific subject area. With this approach, data from two different bibliographical databases were reused, by merging and unifying them and make them better accessible to users. A preliminary metadata merge was needed to combine all the information into one system in order to produce a metadata-ontology. Resource Description Framework Schema (RDFS) has been chosen to exploit semantic relationships e.g. the possibilities of browsing the data in different ways (by keywords, categories, authors, etc.), and the creation of a multilingual concept-based advanced search. In a demo version of the portal, that has not yet been published online, which was presented at the ECDL conference in 2004, other functionalities were available to the users. For instance, the ability to provide semantically related concepts while navigating the keywords, the ability to provide co-authors, the ability to create a query using graphical-composer. These steps are just a starting point for further exploitation of other semantic relationships available in a bibliographic metadata record. Making use of existing semantic relationships between, for example, author and keyword, that are not normally exploited in bibliographic databases allowed for more meaningful and hence user-friendly browse experiences. The possible benefits of converting from RDFS to OWL are currently being explored.

See also: AGRIS AP XML

When to Use WSIT Reliable Messaging
Mike Grogan, Blog

Reliable messaging is a feature of WSIT, which will be delivered through Glassfish V2. When the Reliable Messaging feature is used, it does its work automatically with almost no effort from application developers. This means that there is little to say about how to use the feature. It is important, though, to understand when to use the feature. The first thing to know is that an client application programmer does not get to choose whether to use Reliable Messaging. If a Web Service endpoint uses it, it advertises the fact in a WS-Policy Assertion its WSDL. A WSIT client invoking the endpoint will always use Reliable Messaging when the Policy assertion is present. There are a few client-side Reliable Messaging configuration settings, but they are fine-grained ones. The default values work fine in almost every case. This means that the only special attention a client application programmer needs to pay to Reliable Messaging is the mechanism for closing a connection described here. In most cases, a client programmer does not need to know that Reliable Messaging is being used. The developer of a WSIT endpoint only needs to choose whether to enable Reliable Messaging, and if it is enabled, must decide whether to enable the ordered delivery feature. The decisions are reflected in Policy assertions in the WSDL of the endpoint. These assertions can be edited using the NetBeans 5.5.1 IDE. To make the decisions, it is important to understand some of the benefits and disadvantages of Reliable Messaging. Performance is the most frequently-mentioned disadvantage,but might not really matter that much to many users. The Reliable Messaging protocol sends its own messages and adds protocol headers to application messages, so both the number of messages and their sizes are increased if Reliable Messaging is enabled. This increases processing times and decreases the number of requests that can be processed by a given endpoint.

See also: Tango's Web Services Interoperability Technologies (WSIT)

SAML Single Sign-On (SSO) Service for Google Apps
Staff, Google Technical Documentation

Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) is an XML standard that allows secure web domains to exchange user authentication and authorization data. Using SAML, an online service provider can contact a separate online identity provider to authenticate users who are trying to access secure content. Google Apps offers a SAML-based Single Sign-On (SSO) service that provides partner companies with full control over the authorization and authentication of hosted user accounts that can access web-based applications like Gmail or Google Calendar. Using the SAML model, Google acts as the service provider and provides services such as Gmail and Partner Start Pages (PSP). Google partners act as identity providers and control usernames, passwords and other information used to identify, authenticate and authorize users for web applications that Google hosts. It is important to note that the SSO solution only applies to web applications. Google offers two tools to help partners understand and implement a SAML-based SSO service. (1) The SAML-based SSO Static Demo demonstrates the SAML transaction process. The demo uses static files to simulate the transactions that Google and the partner company would conduct to log a user into a hosted Google application (Gmail). (2) The Web-based Reference Implementation is an interactive Java application that allows partners to view the XML generated for SAML requests and responses. The documentation for the tool explains how the partner could modify the tool to submit SAML requests to an internal application that actually authenticates a user. Both of these tools display a similar interface. However, the static demo does not actually execute any code whereas the web-based reference implementation provides Java code that demonstrates the functionality a partner will need to perform to process SAML requests and generate SAML responses.

See also: the demo

Search KMLs on Google Earth
Staff, Google Friends Newsletter

"KML is the XML file format people use to create overlays to enhance the geographic imagery with a vast array of detailed information. For instance, open up Google Earth, type in a query like [lord of the rings], and the results from the web (in KML files) for your query will appear in a folder below the local results as placemarks. The placemarks are based on the area in your view, so searching for [lord of the rings] while you're viewing South Africa will get you no results—but when you're viewing New Zealand, the same query will show you top ten placemarks (green icons) from the region and by clicking on 'see more' you can find tons more placemarks. With the latest version, you can search across all of the KML available on the web using either keywords or geographic locations. Our users have created millions of KML files..." Casual users create KML files to placemark their homes, to document journeys, and to plan cross-country hikes and cycling ventures. Scientists use KML to provide detailed mappings of resources, models, and trends such as volcanic eruptions, weather patterns, earthquake activity, and mineral deposits. Real estate professionals, architects, and city development agencies use KML to propose construction and visualize plans. Students and teachers use KML to explore people, places, and events, both historic and current. Organizations such as National Geographic, UNESCO, and the Smithsonian have all used KML to display their rich sets of global data. Relevant MIME/Media types are 'application/' (kml) and 'application/' (kmz).

See also: Google Earth

California Assembly Bill #1668: State Agencies to Use XML-based Formats
Mark Leno, Legislation Introduced

"AB 1668, as introduced, Leno. Information technology: open-document software. Existing law sets forth the requirements for the acquisition of information technology goods and services, and establishes the duties and responsibilities of the Department of Technology Services. This bill would require all state agencies, beginning on or after January 1, 2008, to create, exchange, and preserve all documents, as specified, in an open extensible markup language-based, XML-based file format, and to start to become equipped to receive any document in an open, XML-based file format, as specified. The bill also would require the Department of Technology Services to evaluate, as specified, all open, XML-based file formats and to develop guidelines, as specified, for state agencies in using open, XML-based file formats... When deciding how to implement this section, the department in its evaluation of open, XML-based file formats shall consider all of the following features: (1) Interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications; (2) Fully published and available royalty-free; (3) Implemented by multiple vendors; (4) Controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard: (b) Beginning on or after January 1, 2008, state agencies shall start to become equipped to accept all documents in an open, XML-based file format for office applications, and shall not adopt a file format used by only one entity..."

See also: the text version

Meeting the SaaS Security Challenge
Andrew K. Burger, TechNewsWorld

Software as a Service (SaaS) and other forms of on-demand applications are becoming more prevalent within enterprises, according to the report. As the use of on-demand applications increases, so does the likelihood of attacks by cybercriminals. The nature of on-demand applications poses particular security challenges. In order to detect and prevent attacks, enterprise IT managers are increasing their use of message encryption, as well as implementing multifactor authentication and multi-layered security environments. As distributed software and systems become more prevalent, the challenge of securing on-demand applications intensifies. "There are two major categories of changes which are already occurring but will be accelerated by the use of SOA and on-demand applications," BEA Systems Principal Engineering Technologist Hal Lockhart told CRM Buyer. Lockhart is also co-chair of the OASIS XACML and Security Services (SAML) technical committees. OASIS is one of the IT industry organizations working to address such issues through an open, collaborative standards development process. In terms of the current state of security technology for distributed applications, Lockhart said that "in many cases, we already have highly effective mechanisms available, but they are insufficiently dynamic, federated, flexible, interoperable or scalable. WS-Security, WS-SecureConversation, WS-Trust, and WS-SecurityPolicy primarily address attacks like interception, impersonation, message modification and spoofing. XACML (eXtensible Access Control Markup Language) addresses unauthorized access. SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) is concerned with federating information used to prevent impersonation and abuse of privilege.

See also: the OASIS XACML TC

XML for PHP Developers, Part 1: The 15 Minute PHP with XML Starter
Cliff Morgan, IBM developerWorks

It's hard to miss the importance of XML in today's application development environment. If you've never before worked with XML in PHP or have not yet made the jump to PHP5, this starter guide to working with new functionality available in PHP5 for XML might persuade you just how easy to work with XML can be. This first article in a three-part series, focusing on quick start API's, demonstrates how SimpleXML, in combination where necessary with the DOM, is the ideal choice for developers working with straightforward, predictable, and relatively small XML documents. These documents are exactly the sort passed by Ajax applications containing, for example, the contents of a form submission or perhaps the response of a Web service application programming interface (API) like While PHP has offered XML support since its early versions, that support improved exponentially with the introduction of PHP5. Because the PHP4 support for XML was somewhat limited, such as offering only a SAX-based parser enabled by default and the PHP4 DOM not implementing the W3C standard, PHP XML developers reinvented the wheel, so to speak, with PHP5 and complied with commonly used standards. PHP5 includes totally rewritten and new extensions, including the SAX parser, the DOM, SimpleXML, XMLReader, XMLWriter, and the XSLT processor. All these extensions are now based on the libxml2. Along with the SAX support improved from PHP4, PHP5 also supports both the DOM according to W3C standard and the SimpleXML extension. SAX, DOM, and SimpleXML are all enabled by default. If you are familiar with the DOM from other languages, you will have an easier time coding with similar functionality in PHP than before. Part 2 of this series will focus on advanced XML parsing techniques.


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