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Last modified: November 06, 2007
XML Daily Newslink. Tuesday, 06 November 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.

Process XML Configuration Files with PHP
Vikram Vaswani, IBM developerWorks

As a general rule, when you develop any reasonably-complex piece of software, it's a good idea to take time to identify the product's key configuration variables, and then separate these from the standard variable namespace and place them in a separate area. With this process, you can create a centralized repository of application configuration information and simplify the task of modifying the product to work in different environment. It can also help increase a developer's familiarity with, and understanding of, the key pieces of information needed to get the product up and running. Traditionally, configuration variables are stored in one (or more) configuration files. XML provides a convenient, easy-to-use expression language for an application's configuration files. To extract this information into a PHP script can sometimes pose a challenge. That's where the XJConf for PHP package comes in: It provides an API to read XML-encoded information and directly use it to configure PHP data structures like scalars, arrays and PHP objects. This article introduces the package and demonstrates some useful real-world applications of its usage, including configuring complex class trees and building a Web-based configuration interface. The XJConf package provides an easy-to-use, flexible API that reads XML-formatted configuration files and converts the values found therein into PHP data structures. In addition to simple string and numeric values, it also supports the use of arrays and objects, and includes built-in intelligence to automatically configure newly-instantiated objects through setter methods.

See also: the XJConf for PHP Web site

Microsoft Puts the 'F' in Functional
Darryl K. Taft, eWEEK

Microsoft is targeting functional programming as a next big thing in software development. F#—pronounced "F sharp"—is a functional programming language out of Microsoft Research that the company will productize to target developers dealing with concurrency and those in the financial, scientific and technical, and academic arenas. At the Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications 2007 conference in October, some of Microsoft's leading language gurus, including Jim Hugunin, Anders Hejlsberg and Erik Meijer, spoke of coming to Montreal via Cambridge, England, where they had stopped in on Don Syme, Microsoft's researcher heading up the F# project. Microsoft had just announced plans to transition the technology from research to product form under Visual Studio. Earlier in the conference, Hejlsberg, a core creator of C#, said he has seen a resurgence of functional programming and its influences. Functional programming treats computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions and avoids state and mutable data. Functional languages include APL, Erlang, Haskell, Lisp, ML, Oz and Scheme. Microsoft's Meijer is one of the creators of Haskell. S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division: "Language features such as lambda expressions in C# and generics in .Net 2.0 have roots in functional languages, and LINQ (Language Integrated Query) is directly based on functional programming techniques. Many ideas from functional languages are helping us address some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today, from the impedance mismatch between data and objects to the challenges of the multi-core and parallel computing space... Microsoft will fully integrate the F# language into Visual Studio and continue innovating and evolving F#. In my mind, F# is another first-class programming language on the CLR (Common Language Runtime)."

Protocol for Web Description Resources (POWDER): Grouping of Resources
Andrea Perego and Phil Archer (eds), W3C Technical Report

W3C's Protocol for Web Description Resources (POWDER) Working Group has published the First Public Working Draft for Protocol for "Protocol for Web Description Resources (POWDER): Grouping of Resources." POWDER facilitates the publication of descriptions of multiple resources such as all those available from a Web site. These descriptions are attributable to a named individual, organization or entity that may or may not be the creator of the described resources. This contrasts with more usual metadata that typically applies to a single resource, such as a specific document's title, which is usually provided by its author. Description Resources (DRs) are described separately. This document sets out how groups (i.e. sets) of resources may be defined, either for use in DRs or in other contexts. Set theory has been used throughout as it provides a well-defined framework that leads to unambiguous definitions. However, it is used solely to provide a formal version of what is written in the natural language text. Companion documents describe the RDF/OWL vocabulary and XML data types that are derived from this and the Description Resources document, setting out each term's domain, range and constraints. As each term is introduced in this document, it is linked to its description in the vocabulary document.

See also: W3C Semantic Web Activity

Bumps on the Road to Document Exchange Nirvana
Jason Brooks, eWEEK

The OpenDocument Foundation has announced its plans to sever itself from participation in or further advocacy of its namesake office document format in favor of the World Wide Web Consortium's XHTML (Extensible HTML)-based Compound Document Format. Although the OpenDocument Foundation is a fairly small organization, the group sports a certain cachet that stems from the ODF-to-MS Office plug-in that the group announced—but did not release publicly—about a year and a half ago. When you open an MS Office document with one of these applications, a conversion engine attempts to map every formatting element it finds to a feature of the application doing the importing. If some formatting elements are unknown or otherwise unmappable, those elements are stripped and thrown away. Stripped formatting elements mean formatting inconsistencies in documents passed between MS Office and other applications, and these inconsistencies have made it extremely tough to sell organizations on MS Office alternatives—even alternatives with zero licensing fees. The OpenDocument Foundation wanted to see ODF applications pick up the capability to pass along unknown elements in order to maintain formatting fidelity, albeit at the cost, at times, of file format purity.

See also: Peter Galli's article

Web Security Context: Experience, Indicators, and Trust
Thomas Roessler and Anil Saldhana (eds), W3C Technical Report

W3C announced the First Public Working Draft for "Web Security Context: Experience, Indicators, and Trust." The specification deals with the trust decisions that users must make online, and with ways to support them in making safe and informed decisions where possible. In order to achieve that goal, the specification includes recommendations on the presentation of identity information by Web user agents; on handling errors in security protocols in a way that minimizes the trust decisions left to users, and (we hope) induces them toward safe behavior where they have to make these decisions; and on data entry interactions that will make it easier for users to enter sensitive data into legitimate sites than to enter them into illegitimate sites. Where this document specifies user interactions with a goal toward making security usable, no claim is made at this time that this goal is met... To complement the interaction and decision related parts of this specification, [Section] 8 'Robustness' addresses the question of how the communication of context information needed to make decisions can be made more robust against attacks. Finally, [Section] 9 'Authoring' and deployment best practices is about practices for those who deploy Web Sites. It complements some of the interaction related techniques recommended in this specification. The aim of that section is to provide guidelines for creating Web sites with reduced attack surfaces against certain threats, and with usefully provided security context information.

See also: the Last Call Use Cases Working Draft

Strategies for Using Open Source in the Thai Software Industry
James Clark, Blog

"This presentation is adapted from the slides of a presentation I gave yesterday on how the Thai software industry can benefit from open source. I think a more important problem is how the country as a whole can benefit from open source, but that wasn't what I was asked to talk about. Also note that the objective here is not to help open source but to help the Thai software industry. I think most, if not all of this, is applicable to other countries at a stage of development similar to Thailand's... Be highly selective about starting new projects: (1) Successful, large open source projects could help build image of sponsor organization or Thailand generally, (2) But [it's] very difficult to create a really successful, large open source projects; (3) Choose [an] area where no open source solution is yet available; opportunities still exist; (4) Need to choose projects that can benefit rather than compete with local software industry...


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