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The W3C Multimodal Architecture, Part 1: Overview and Challenges
Gerald McCobb, IBM developerWorks
Applications for personal computers and small devices are rapidly evolving to meet the market demand for alternatives to keyboard-, keypad-, and stylus-based interaction. Alternative modes of interaction include voice and digital pen, and may be used either separately or combined with other modes. A cell phone user, for example, might get flight information by speaking into the phone's receiver, saying "Show me all flights from Boston to New York on December 23." In response, the application would show a list of flights on the cell phone screen, and the user could then pick one of the flights either by speaking or using the stylus. The W3C Multimodal Interaction (MMI) Working Group has been at work since 2002 on a standard framework for developing such applications. Recently, the group published a new version of its Multimodal Architecture and Interfaces working draft. While this document is only a working draft, it is on track to becoming a W3C recommendation, and the MMI Working Group has made a lot of progress toward this goal. This first article in a three-part series provides an overview of the MMI Working Group's Multimodal Architecture in its current form. It shows that the architecture is primarily dedicated to server-side interaction management, where the multimodal components are distributed over multiple clients and servers. The article also reveals some of the challenges facing the MMI Working Group and briefly explains how these challenges will affect developers seeking to build Web applications using the architecture.
See also: W3C Multimodal Interaction WG
Public Group: Liberty Concordia
Staff, Liberty Alliance
The published Concordia Working Group Charter describes an open, cross organizational, public working group. The Concordia Program is designed as an umbrella initiative to drive harmonization and interoperability of identity specifications and protocols. As expressed by the name (Roman goddess of agreement, understanding, and harmony), the goal of this group is to help drive the development of use-case scenarios where multiple identity specifications, standards and/or other initiatives might co-exist, recognizing heterogeneous deployment environments of the marketplace. Based on this open knowledge gathering process, the group recognizes that additional specifications, profiles and/or services may need to be defined. The group's goals are as follows: (1) Drive development of a ubiquitous, interoperable, privacy-respecting layer for identity in order to help drive deployment costs down, assure implementers and deployers of better success and greater productivity, and lead to more commercial products and open source offerings, in turn leading to a healthy market facilitate new service offerings; (2) Assure interoperability across this layer—deliver confidence to implementers and deployers in implementing today with successful interoperability tomorrow; (3) Encourage strong, cross-sector, cross-geography participation through an open development process. The Concordia Working Group is chartered by the Liberty Management Board, and may be may be amended from time to time. Other Liberty Alliance Public Groups include: (1) Identity Theft Prevention SIG - a public working group focused on preventing Identity theft and fraud; (2) Inter-Federation Forum - a public discussion group focused on how to overcome barriers to mass-market deployment of identity federations that began with a breakout session at the RSA Security Conference in January of 2007.
See also: Pat Patterson's Blog
Identity Associated RDF Attribute
Mark Wahl (ed), IETF Network Working Group Internet Draft
In an identity metasystem, when an end user requests access to a service, the network interactions for authenticating and authorizing that user can involve three parties: a relying party, an identity provider, and the end user. The relying party is the network entity which requires the identity of a user in order to make an access control decision. The identity provider is the network entity which establishes the identity of the end user. The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a general-purpose language for representing information in the Web. In particular, RDF is used to describe the metadata of attribute types in the OpenID Attribute Exchange protocol, to describe people and relationships in FOAF, and in the Higgins Trust Framework Eclipse Project to unify identity data description formats across multiple protocols. It is desirable for this information to be expressed in the RDF syntax without needing to be translated to the attribute syntax of an underlying transfer protocol, as such a transfer might lose the semantics associated with the RDF definitions. This specification defines an attribute of a user identity which contains a set of statements expressed in the Resource Description Framework and encoded in XML. An encoding of the attribute is defined for transport in the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), in the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and the OpenID Attribute Exchange Protocol.
See also: OpenID Attribute Exchange
Sun Targets Mobile, Tries to Outshine Silverlight and Flash
Darryl K. Taft, eWEEK
Sun Microsystems previewed its JavaFX Script technology at the JavaOne show on May 8, 2007. According to the announcement, JavaFX Script is a radically simple scripting language for creating rich content and applications to run on billions of Java-powered devices from mobile phones to Blu-ray Disc players to the browser. The first of a series of content authoring products from Sun, JavaFX Script enables content rich, highly interactive sites to be built by creative professionals including designers, authors and developers. JavaFX Script takes advantage of the Java Runtime Environment's (JRE) ubiquity across devices and enables creative professionals to begin building applications based on their current knowledge base. It also uses Java technology's "write once, run anywhere" capability to help realize a future where consumers can access content whenever and wherever on any Java-powered device. JavaFX applications will run on JavaFX Mobile, Sun's software system for mobile devices also previewed at JavaOne, as well as desktop browsers. JavaFX Script applications will run on any JavaSE technology-based platform including all of the upcoming JavaFX software systems for mobile handsets, TVs and other embedded applications from automobiles to game systems. JavaFX Script is unique in providing close integration with Java components that run on the server or the client, resulting in a richer end-to-end experience. JavaFX Script brings together a simple and intuitive language design, requiring less coding and providing fast development cycles with a ubiquitous runtime platform and an open source program for innovation by developers worldwide. Over time, Sun will enhance the JavaFX family with content tools, widgets and other offerings that will further aid developers in creating rich media and content.
See also: the announcement
Standards: See the Forest and the Trees
Michael Daconta, Government Computer News
"Data standardization involves the gathering of often-independent stakeholders to hammer out agreements on the syntax and semantics of data across a community. This process is notoriously difficult because of the medium and the conjoining of technical and business needs. Cohesion binds together all the individual design elements to the standard's primary purpose. Cohesion in design produces elegance. The lack of cohesion produces a disjointed base, compounded with every modification. And it starts the clock ticking on a standard's implosion. During the past six months, I have witnessed several standards efforts losing cohesion. The Electronic Fingerprint Transmission Specification, used by the FBI, and the Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification, used by the Defense Department, are implementations of the ANSI/NIST-ITL 1-2000: Data Format for the Interchange of Fingerprint, Facial, and Scar Mark and Tattoo Information standard. The current standard is binary, but the proposed standard will include an alternate Extensible Markup Language (XML) version. It suffers from a kitchen-sink mentality. It makes the mistake of combining a data standard with a service standard, which it calls a transaction. It made sense to combine those two when the standard was a poor man's distributed system in which you embed transaction processing in e-mails. But now we have a better way. It's called the Internet and the World Wide Web. When legacy constraints hinder a standard, it begins bleeding cohesion. Another example is the National Information Exchange Model, which recently voted to eliminate universal data elements from its resulting messages."
Sun: The Bulk of Java Is Open Sourced
China Martens, InfoWorld
Sun Microsystems announced at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco that it has finished the process of making the bulk of its core Java technology available as open-source software under the GNU general public license version 2 (GPLv2). Sun first pledged to make Java freely available just over a year ago at JavaOne in May 2006 and then in November announced its somewhat surprising choice of open-source license and began releasing OpenJDK components. In all of the vendor's previous open sourcing of its software, Sun relied on its own CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License). Java was the first time the vendor opted for GPL, a popular license with the free and open-source software community. Sun is hoping that open sourcing Java under the GPL will lead to Linux distributors embedding the software in their operating systems and thus widening the technology's appeal to more developers. Last month, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, said once Java was fully available under GPL, Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the Linux distribution, would consider including the technology in the core of Ubuntu. Sun hopes the open-source community will help it resolve the issue of Java source code that remains "encumbered," where Sun doesn't hold enough rights to release the code under GPLv2, according to Rich Sands; in the future, Sun plans to work with the open-source community to rewrite the encumbered components to replace the current closed-source code and make it available under GPL2.
See also: the announcement
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