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Last modified: March 29, 2007
XML Daily Newslink. Thursday, 29 March 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.

Formal BPEL Standard Set for Approval
Paul Krill, InfoWorld

An industry-wide specification for orchestrating Web services in business processes appears set to be formally adopted by OASIS next week, nearly five years after the proposal first debuted. Voting on WS-BPEL (Web Services Business Process Execution Language) 2.0, or BPEL, by OASIS members concludes this Saturday and the organization expects it to be formally approved. An announcement is anticipated on Monday. BPEL is an XML language that uses Web services to describe services interactions, said John Evdemon, co-chairman of the BPEL technical committee at OASIS and a member of the architecture strategy team at Microsoft. It is considered crucial to SOA and functions with the WS-* (pronounced as 'ws star') Web services standards. According to Evdemon, Version 2.0 of BPEL features improvements in a number of areas. Activity types, which are akin to constructs that describe process flows, have improved with the addition of if-then-else statements replacing the switch statement used previously. Also featured in the new version is the capability to extend BPEL to add vendor-specific capabilities in areas such as security. A variable initialization capability specifies how a variable, such as one holding a specific value that can referenced later, can be initialized. An example of where this would be used is with a product identifier. Also featured is the use of XSLT (Extensible Style Sheets) to provide a standard, Web-based mechanism for transforming variable data. "If you think about the overall goals of SOA, the ability to compose the services into a business process that solves a real business problem is critical, and that's what BPEL gives us," said Diane Jordan, program director for software standards at IBM and also a co-chairperson of the BPEL technical committee at OASIS. Explaining why it has taken this long to get a ratification-worthy version of BPEL [Jordan said] "The language is a fairly complex thing to produce... potential problems with the specification have had to be addressed and that has taken a long time.. BPEL is really creating a new capability for Web services to be orchestrated." BPEL can enable services to be sequenced or run in parallel; Web services can be used in a business flow. Some technology vendors that have implemented the 1.1 specification in their products are likely to incorporate the 2.0 version. Users also can employ business processes with BPEL, make them part of their SOA, and feel more confident about a formally adopted version of BPEL. BPEL was first published in August 2002 by a list of vendors that included BEA Systems, IBM, and Microsoft. Since then, vendors such as Oracle have endorsed it as well. BPEL was submitted for consideration by OASIS in May 2003. A 1.1 version of the specification has been in use but was never formally adopted by the organization as an OASIS standard.

See also: the BPEL balloted spec

IBM Developing Wiki How-To Tool
Stefanie Olsen, CNET

IBM's Almaden Research Lab is developing a Wikipedia-like tool for how-to knowledge that would help people automate repetitive tasks performed on the Web, such as filling out forms or paying bills. Tessa Lau, a developer at the San Jose, Calif.-based lab, demonstrated the technology called Koala at ETech, a four-day conference on emerging technology running here this week. IBM's been developing Koala, a Firefox Web browser plug-in, over the last year. Here's how it works: the Koala plug-in shows up in the left-side pane of the Firefox browser. Once the user hits record, the application will create a simple programming script of tasks performed online that appear in that pane. For example, if a person were shopping for a new home in San Francisco, he or she might first go to the Multiple Listing Service Web site for the Bay Area. Koala would record that Web site as a first step in the how-to process. Next, the shopper might input criteria for the home in MLS fields, and Koala would note each data field in the overall script. If an initial search for homes based on certain criteria (e.g., a $1 million, two-bedroom home) didn't yield enough matches, the user might change criteria in the field of the Koala script. That way, Koala would automatically regenerate the search, without the user having to do it. To protect credit card numbers in scripts, Lau said IBM is working on solving that issue by writing code to recognize types of numbers and then make those numbers anonymous.

OASIS Forms ebXML Registry REST Subcommittee
Staff, OASIS Announcement

Participants in the OASIS ebXML Registry TC, formerly the OASIS Registry and Repository TC, have created a new ebXML Registry REST Subcommittee. In keeping with the TC Charter focus on developing future versions of the OASIS ebXML Registry Specifications with consideration of related technologies adopted by other forums, the REST Subcommittee will develop a specification document to allow implementers to develop a complimentary optional REST-based interface for Registry. The REST support will follow the REST principles. This will not replace the existing interface, but augment the access methods that Registry can support based on the existing RIM and APIs. The SC will first formalize the scope and use cases to be addressed using REST-based interfacing and then develop formal mechanisms and specification details to implement that. This will be tailored to ensure focus on rapidly attainable results. The goal will be to support a limited common set of use cases, rather than an extended set.

New Draft Of GPLv3 Is Published, Extends Reach to More Than Software
Thomas Claburn, DDJ

The Free Software Foundation on Wednesday released the third discussion draft of the GPL, or GNU General Public License. The changes in the draft, according to attorney Mark Radcliffe of DLA Piper and general counsel of the Open Source Initiative, address the concerns of three major constituencies. One is that of large companies, which are very concerned about the patent provisions; a second constituency is the Linux community, which is particularly concerned about DRM; the third constituency is the general developer community that wants to see the GPL work with other licenses, and deal with what's called the 'ASP hole.' The ASP hole refers to GPLv2's failure to address code-sharing obligations in situations where open source software provides a service over the Internet rather than being distributed for local installation. One of the major changes is that the GPL is no longer limited to software. "It's basically now any copyrightable work," Radcliffe said, "and that reflects the fact that Sun has released the RTL code for its Sparc processor." A second major change is the narrowing of the patent section from a broader license of the entire work to one that's based on contributions. That is something that many large companies with patent portfolios were concerned about because the prior draft said if you distribute GPL licensed code, you grant a patent license to it, even if you don't change it at all. A third major change addresses the Microsoft-Novell agreement, which provides Novell licensees with what amounts to an exemption from patent infringement liability granted by Microsoft. The new language attempts to make covenants like the Microsoft-Novell agreement apply to all GPL users rather than just to those using a specific Linux distribution. The new language attempts to make covenants like the Microsoft-Novell agreement apply to all GPL users rather than just to those using a specific Linux distribution. "How enforceable that is, it's difficult to say, because obviously Microsoft is not a party to the contract," Radcliffe said. GPLv3 also attempts to address this problem from the Novell side by saying that entering into an agreement with a third party that tries to restrict rights under the GPL is a potential violation of the license. The foundation has moderated its position on DRM, narrowing the prohibition against DRM to situations where it would prevent people from exercising their rights under the GPL.

See also: Discussion Draft 3 of Version 3

XInclude Processing in XSLT
Erik Wilde,

Assembling various parts of a document before processing the assembled document is a recurring theme in document processing. XML Inclusions (XInclude) is the W3C standard created to support this scenario, but since it is a standalone specification, it needs to be supported by a piece of software implementing this functionality. The XInclude Processor (XIPr), written in XSLT 2.0, implements XInclude and thus may help to reduce the dependency on numerous software packages if XInclude is used in an environment where XSLT 2.0 is used anyway. XIPr is implemented as a single XSLT 2.0 stylesheet. It can be used standalone in a publishing pipeline or as an imported module in some other XSLT code for integrated XInclude processing. XML DTDs introduced the concept of entities, which could be used for assembling distributed physical structures of an XML document into one logical XML document. The XML processor has the task of assembling the various entities. Entities, however, were never very popular in the XML community (except among the SGML traditionalists) and thus were completely removed in XML Schema. As a replacement, the W3C came up with XML Inclusions (XInclude), which is defined as a process of merging XML Infosets. An increasing number of XML processors supports XInclude, but it is important to realize that XInclude is a separate step of an XML processing pipeline, not an integral part of XML parsing or transformation. The new 2.0 version of XSLT finally allows you to implement XInclude in XSLT—something which could not be done in the 1.0 version of the language, because in that version it was impossible to access plain-text files. The XInclude Processor (XIPr) is an implementation of XInclude in XSLT 2.0; it has been created as part of an XSLT-only tool that requires an inclusion facility—this tool is the XSLidy presentation package, which uses XSLT to generate a set of Slidy presentations out of an XML document. Instead of defining and implementing a proprietary solution, XSLidy is now based on XIPr, which is available as a standalone XSLT stylesheet. Note: XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0 Second Edition, edited by Jonathan Marsh, David Orchard, and Daniel Veillard, was released as a W3C Recommendation on 15-November-2006. It specifies a processing model and syntax for general purpose inclusion. Inclusion is accomplished by merging a number of XML information sets into a single composite infoset. Specification of the XML documents (infosets) to be merged and control over the merging process is expressed in XML-friendly syntax (elements, attributes, URI references).

See also: the XInclude specification

Microsoft Unveils Mobile Browser With Zoom-In Feature
Antone Gonsalves, InformationWeek

Microsoft has launched a technology preview of a mobile browser that tries to deliver a desktop-like view of Web pages. Deepfish was introduced this week at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego as a limited technology preview. The software is available by invitation only to a small number of beta users. Developed by Microsoft Live Labs, the browser has a zoom in/out feature that makes it different than similar software used on phones today. Rather than offering a reformatted version of a Web page, Deepfish captures and delivers the full layout in an as-designed view. Using the software's joystick, the user can navigate through a page and zoom in and out of portions. The browser does not support Web sites with AJAX, animation, Javascript, cookies and ActiveX controls. Websites today are often rewritten for phones, which leads to boring pages absent of the original design. In general, however, developers and designers do not provide phone friendly versions of pages unless there's a compelling business need. To make more content available via phones, makers of current browsers reformat pages to fit the phone's small screen, often making the pages difficult to read. From the FAQ: "Deepfish is a mobile browsing Technology Preview from Microsoft Live Labs. Deepfish displays content in a view that is closer to the desktop experience. The zoom-able interface and cue map allow you to quickly access the information you care about over the web without ever losing track of where you are. Deepfish provides: A familiar look and feel of web pages on mobile as seen on desktop; Bandwidth optimized rendering for faster content delivery; Address bar web navigation; Intuitive zooming, panning and cue map for quick navigation and browsing; Support for simple link navigation and form submission."

See also: the FAQ document

Last Call Review: SPARQL Query Language for RDF
Eric Prud'hommeaux and Andy Seaborne (eds), W3C Technical Report

W3C's RDF Data Access Working Group has released a third Last Call Working Draft for the "SPARQL Query Language for RDF" specification. SPARQL (pronounced "sparkle") offers developers and end users a way to write and to consume search results across a wide range of information such as personal data, social networks and metadata about digital artifacts like music and images. RDF is a directed, labeled graph data format for representing information in the Web. The specification defines the syntax and semantics of the SPARQL query language for RDF. SPARQL can be used to express queries across diverse data sources, whether the data is stored natively as RDF or viewed as RDF via middleware. SPARQL contains capabilities for querying required and optional graph patterns along with their conjunctions and disjunctions. SPARQL also supports extensible value testing and constraining queries by source RDF graph. The results of SPARQL queries can be results sets or RDF graphs. Compared to previous versions, this document adds an algebra for SPARQL that provides semantics for evaluating graph patterns and solution modifiers. This algebra is defined over basic graph pattern matching for simple entailment. This document also provides conditions for extending SPARQL basic graph pattern matching. The RDF Data Access Working Group has a large collection of existing tests, most (but not all) of which accurately reflect the semantics of SPARQL. The working group is producing a new test suite that is currently a work in progress. Public comments on the WD are due by 18-April-2007.

See also: the W3C Semantic Web home page

Identity Open Space, Co-produced by Liberty Alliance and IIW
Staff, Liberty Alliance Announcement

The Identity Open Space un-conference, the second co-sponsored by Liberty Alliance and Internet Identity Workshop and the first in Europe, will be held April 26-27, 2007 directly following the Liberty Alliance plenary meeting. The 1.5-day format provides an excellent opportunity for public discussion about whatever topics are of interest to attendees, helping attendees examine and leverage the strengths of one another in order to speed the development of a more secure and privacy-respecting global Internet. It is an open event: anyone with identity interests is encouraged to attend and participate.Building on the successes of the open-space-basedInternet Identity Workshops (IIWs), IOS in Brussels will provide an ideal opportunity for making progress on user-centric identity development in a European setting. European participants in the user-centric identity conversation -- and in cooperative identity development efforts (e.g. OpenID, Cardspace, OSIS, SXiP, Higgins, ProjectVRM, XRI/XDI/iNames, Liberty; The Identity Metasystem; Identity 2.0; Concordia Program; Identity Commons)—will have an opportunity to meet face to face and move many topics forward. Every open space identity workshop has resulted in remarkable forward movement on the topics discussed—all of which are chosen byattendees. No panels, no keynotes, just reports on progress and fresh work toward more progress.

See also: Liberty references

IBM's Latest CICS Release Upgrades SOA Support
Tony Baer, Computer Business Review Online

In an era where tools from providers like SOA Software and NetManage are already providing SOA, it's not surprising that IBM should step up to the plate and SOA-enable its legendary Customer Information Control System (CICS) transaction system. z/OS V3.2 enhances CICS application connectivity with new Web services capabilities including support for recent standards, interoperability profiles, and the ability to send large amounts of binary data efficiently. It supports applications reuse and deployment of web services into CICS using a wider range of programming languages and XML data types and attributes, with improvements to performance and diagnostics. The new version, 3.2, which is the first for CICS in three years, is not the first that exposed transactions as web services—that already occurred in the previous version. But it keeps CICS current with emerging web services standards, including support for WSDL 2.0; WS-I Basic Profile 1.1 and Security Profile 1.0; WS-Security; plus MTOM (for optimizing SOAP message transmission) and XOP (XML binary attachment packaging). Additionally, it improves processing of unstructured data such as JPG, GIF, PDF, and BLOB files contained inside web services messages. Other enhancements include 64-bit support, elimination of storage size limitations, and better integration with WebSphere MQ messaging. Further development of the MQ adapter has moved from WebSphere to the Data Management group, which owns IBM's databases and CICS products.

Apache Muse: Design a WSDL to Translate httpd Concepts
Kane Scarlett, IBM developerWorks

The Apache Muse Project is a Java-based implementation of the WS-ResourceFramework (WSRF), WS-BaseNotification (WSN), and WS-DistributedManagement (WSDM) specifications. It is a framework upon which users can build web service interfaces for manageable resources without having to implement all of the "plumbing" described by the aforementioned standards. Applications built with Muse can be deployed in both Apache Axis2 and OSGi environments, and the project includes a set of command line tools that can generate the proper artifacts for your deployment scenario. When you're building a Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM)-compliant interface for a manageable resource with Apache Muse, these four simple steps will guide you in designing the necessary Web Services Description Language (WSDL). First, understand the state model—the resource properties document. WSRF and WSDM both define a number of standard properties (many of which are optional) that are useful to managed resource developers. Three HTTP properties to focus on include ThreadsPerChild (the number of request-handling threads in each httpd process), Listen (the port number that the server is listening on), and ServerName (the full host name and port that the server uses to identify itself). Second, decide which resource operations the Web services interface should have. HTTP operations like Start and Stop are really necessary because a management client would most probably need to control the availability of the server if it were in charge of maintaining and optimizing it. Third, use the template WSDL provided by the Muse SDK to build the actual WSDL XML document. Use the template WSDL provided by the Muse SDK to build the actual WSDL XML document for the httpd resource based on Steps #1 and #2; the template includes the WS-* definitions you need. Fourth, add the resource properties and operations that are specific to HTTP servers.

See also: Apache Muse


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