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Last modified: November 20, 2007
XML Daily Newslink. Tuesday, 20 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:
IBM Corporation

HTML V5 and XHTML V2: Two Competing Standards Coexist
Adriaan de Jonge, IBM developerWorks

Most people use HTML V4 and XHTML V1 to create Web pages. Relatively few HTML enthusiasts understand the concepts of semantic HTML, validating HTML structures, and improving documents for accessibility. A high-quality HTML document is a result of many trade-offs, design choices, and discussions. Despite all criticism, no alternative even nearly as universal as HTML exists. Most users settle for the standard as it is, even if it will be the final version ever produced. Like any other standard, however, HTML will have successors. Even now, specialists are thinking about the next version of HTML, solving every known issue in the current version. And like any group of people, these specialists disagree on the future direction of this work. The first proposal for a new HTML version came from a work group initiated by the W3C. This group's idea centered around XHTML V2—a standard that continued previous developments in XHTML toward a purer version and returned to the design philosophy of the first editions of HTML. Some prominent HTML specialists outside the W3C—browser vendors, Web developers, authors, and other stakeholders—disagreed with the direction of XHTML V2. In 2004, they started an independent work group to propose an alternative direction for the next version of HTML. Under the flag of WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group), the group put together proposals for HTML V5 and Web Forms V2. After a few years, the working draft is a clear description of an alternative direction for HTML. In April 2007, the W3C voted on a proposal to adopt HTML V5 for review, without accepting it as an official recommendation (yet). A great majority voted in its favor. As a result, an interesting situation has arisen: The W3C is working on two competing successors for HTML and XHTML. In theory, both proposals have legitimate justifications. In practice, many hurdles must be overcome before the all the major browsers support the standards.

TPAC 2007: Cracks and Mortar
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Plenary Presentation

From the W3C Technical Plenary Day (Wednesday, 7-November-2007). "Cracks and Mortar": Tim Berners-Lee is taking the floor... (Sketch:) "The world is a mess of interconnected communities and that is why it is working." Content-Type: is a way to define the content available at a specific URI. It gives flexibility for evolution. It reminds me that we, Olivier and I, gave at Keio University a talk on Web architecture and we talked about content-type. HTML 5 proposes to jeopardize the content-type ignoring the server part of the architecture. TAG Soup: Tim reminds that documenting existing practice is fine but evolving toward clean markup sounds like a good idea. Validation: it should allow extensibility, it should explain problems and motivation, and balance its level of disapprobation [disapprove some behaviors more than others, depending upon severity]. Browsers: "save as" [menu option] to help having a cleaner markup. Alternatives: central registry of terms—microformats, etc. New tags and attributes in HTML: validator complains, then microformats overload classes. This is a vicious circle. Canvas and SVG: Tim is asking for dialog between the communities. Look also at the comparison between the two. XML top-down dispatch offers a recursive dispatch. Multiple namespaces in RDF... The future open doors to new things linked data, Coumpound Document Format as an alternative to Silverlight and AIR, FOAF+Openid for blocking spam and makes open social networks, mobile web, video and more. See the slides and (better, listen to Tim, Janet, Raman, and others on) the audio.

See also: the audio

Open Source Partnerships Advance Management Tools
Denise Dubie, Network World

Open source management software has become a viable alternative to commercial products, and a recent rash of partnerships proves it, an analyst says. Red Hat and Hyperic this week said they are collaborating on a common platform designed to speed systems management improvements to open source software. Separately, Nagios Enterprise, the commercial arm of the Nagios open source monitoring software, and GroundWork Open Source announced this week they plan to jointly develop and deliver services around open source IT monitoring and management. The deals mark a significant change in customer attitudes, analysts say, as customers now weigh open source software against commercial products more than ever. The partnerships forged this week could bode well for the longevity of open source management platforms. For instance, given that Red Hat is a trusted name in the open source community, that recognition could reassure customers considering Hyperic that the company's technology has significant development and support behind it. "It's a great deal for Hyperic to have Red Hat engaged in this effort," Zachary says. And GroundWork, which built its open source management platform in part on Nagios technology, also gains some validation with support from Nagios Enterprise.

XQuery: XML Power Matching SQL for Relational Data
Sam Edwards and Paul Tremblett, DDJ

XQuery uses the structure of XML intelligently to express queries across the diverse kinds of data XML can be used to represent. Widespread use of XML has established it as a lingua franca. The choice of XML to represent ever-increasing amounts of data led to the need for a query language that uses the structure of XML intelligently to express queries across the diverse kinds of data XML can be used to represent. W3C has developed a formal specification of such a query language; it is called XQuery. The Relation to XPath: If you are familiar with XPath, you'll recognize the syntax of the XQuery we just executed. That's because XQuery is built on XPath. XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 share the same data model and support the same functions and operators. As a matter of fact, every XPath expression is a valid XQuery. This is good news because if you have already learned and used XPath, it won't take much additional study to master XQuery. FLWOR, an acronym for "For, Let, Where, Order by, Return," describes a type of expression used in XQuery that is similar to the "SELECT FROM WHERE ORDER BY" you know from SQL. The practice of placing frequently used segments of code into functions is common to all programming languages. XQuery is no different. We have already mentioned that XQuery supports the same functions as XPath. There are over 100 built-in functions. You can also write your own functions. XQuery functions exist within a namespace. Each function name consists of a prefix that is a shortcut to the namespace followed by a colon followed by the function name. The default prefix, which you can see in the list of built-in functions, is fn:. For user-written functions, you can use the prefix 'local:'. A function that uses a FLWOR expression to perform the equivalent of the join with which you are familiar from SQL is printBandMemberInstrument. It joins musicians.xml, which we have already seen, and band.xml. Notice that the return clause can contain XML tags as well as data. XQuery provides the same power and flexibility for XML as SQL does for relational data. XQuery also makes it possible for you to query office documents -- spreadsheets, word-processing documents, and the like.

See also: the W3C XML Query web site

XML Toolkit to Benchmark Advantage
Karen Dearne, Austrailian IT

The Lending Industry XML Initiative will develop a toolkit to benchmark the advantages of adopting XML in other parts of the mortgage chain. "People need to start thinking about the potential benefits of LIXI in areas like settlement," LIXI chief executive Socrates Vasiliadis says. "We've got a technical toolkit with the appropriate XML and all the other add-ons people need to implement reference models and prototypes. "Now we want to create a toolkit that is squarely aimed at our members' ability to look at a part of their business, benchmark it, draw some conclusions and then build a case for implementation or rectification that they can take to the board." Vasiliadis says LIXI is finally gaining traction because of its work on commissions, with the major banks and Microsoft Australia joining the project. "Microsoft is actually using kits that everybody has in their systems, such as Excel and Open XML, to implement commission standards," he says. "The capabilities are already there, so we can use them rather than going down the code-cutting side. We always knew we weren't using the full capabilities of things like Excel, but with 2007 Office we've been blown away by the power that's available on everyone's desktop to achieve something that has been bugging a lot of people for a long time."

Expect More PKI in 2008
Jon Oltsik, CNET News.Com

Wasn't 1999 supposed to be "the year of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)?" Yes, I know, another analyst prediction that didn't come to fruition. It's fair to chastise the analysts for another missed call, but PKI certainly shares some of the blame. It really is difficult to imagine a "year of PKI" because PKI isn't your typical technology trend. PKI isn't a standalone security widget, it is a complex infrastructure that must be integrated into existing applications and business processes. Once implemented however, PKI can really improve security, protect data integrity, and bolster identity management. PKI never took off because of demand- and supply-side issues. Customers eschewed PKI because it was expensive, difficult to implement, and lacked support of many applications. Vendor solutions really didn't address these issues very well. PKI products have always been rather clunky or academic. IT people love technology but not science projects. This situation is finally changing. On the demand side, PKI is riding on the back of regulatory compliance, security, and business-to-business requirements. More companies and government agencies are adopting smart cards for physical and IT security, a perfect complement to PKI. Application support is more ubiquitous and integration is easier than it was in the past. Companies also need to secure data exchange and develop trust relationships with external constituencies. PKI to the rescue!

See also: the OASIS Public Key Infrastructure Adoption (PKIA) TC

Fedora Commons Integrates Its Software Platform with the Sun StorageTek 5800 System
Staff, Fedora Commons Announcement

Fedora Commons, a non-profit organization which provides sustainable technologies to create, manage, publish, share and preserve digital information assets, announced today plans to integrate the Fedora Commons software platform with the Sun StorageTek 5800 System. This collaboration provides a substantial opportunity to advance open systems for durable access to the digital information assets, which increasingly forms the basis for our intellectual, organizational, scientific and cultural heritage. The Fedora Commons free, open-source software platform uses a service-oriented architecture that enables the creation of collaborative, integrated information spaces where any information entity can be linked to any other entity. The StorageTek 5800 system has advanced data integrity, resilience and failure tolerance over other storage system designs, and includes customer-defined arbitrary metadata indexing and search. Customers can seamlessly scale, saving millions of dollars in administrative costs over traditional storage, and be assured of an advanced level of data availability. During the creation or authoring of intellectual works, changes occur rapidly, but over their lifecycle these works become fixed information assets. New scholarship is built upon earlier works and new science is built upon other research. Without durable access to previous works, research progress cannot be sustained. Unless key digital assets such as datasets and analyses are reliably kept and their authenticity is guaranteed, the scientific method may be compromised and the results may be questioned. The StorageTek 5800 provides a powerful capability to handle fixed unstructured information assets.

Mozilla's Firefox 3 Beta: Improved but Imperfect
Stephen Shankland, CNet News.Com

A few months later than had been planned [Managers-of-Planet-Earth, please reflect on those eight words], Mozilla released on Monday night the first beta version of an overhauled Firefox, the widely used open source Web browser. Firefox 3 beta 1 includes a number of significant features that Mozilla said should improve security, ease of use, rendering of Web pages, and location of previously visited Web pages. For the new era of rich Internet applications, the browser can run Web-based applications even when the computer is disconnected from a network. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux at Mozilla's download site in 20 languages. Although Microsoft's Internet Explorer remains the dominant Web browser, the open-source rival has achieved a critical mass of users—Firefox has been downloaded more than 400 million times—and it's now common for designers to make sure their Web pages work with the browser. Even Microsoft has bowed to the reality, testing its Web sites with Firefox and helping with technical issues such as playing Windows Media files from Web pages. According to the release notes, the core Gecko rendering engine—the component that interprets Web page instructions and draws text and graphics on your screen—has seen major changes in the upgrade to the new version 1.9 used in Firefox 3... Touted improvements include downloading that can be resumed after the browser has been restarted or network connection reset; users can zoom and out of Web pages in their entirety, including layout, text, and graphics; plug-ins can be managed centrally with the Add-On Manager; and mailto links can now launch Web-based e-mail applications such as Gmail, not just local applications on the PC, such as Outlook.

Selected from the Cover Pages, by Robin Cover

W3C Publishes Web Services Policy 1.5 Primer and Guidelines for Policy Assertion Authors

W3C has announced the publication of Web Services Policy 1.5 - Primer and Web Services Policy 1.5 - Guidelines for Policy Assertion Authors, complementing the two W3C WS-Policy specification Recommendations issued in September 2007. The W3C Web Services Policy Working Group was chartered to standardize a general policy framework for expressing Web service capabilities and requirements. The framework consists of a policy data model for expressing capabilities and requirements of a Web Service, a processing model for combining and comparing Web service capabilities and requirements and an XML Information Set representation for the policy data model. The "Web Services Policy 1.5 Framework" Recommendation defines a framework and a model for expressing policies that refer to domain-specific capabilities, requirements, and general characteristics of entities in a Web services-based system. The "Web Services Policy 1.5 Attachment" Recommendation defines two general-purpose mechanisms for associating policies, as defined in Web Services Policy 1.5 Framework, with the subjects to which they apply. The specification also defines how these general-purpose mechanisms may be used to associate policies with WSDL and UDDI descriptions. The "Web Services Policy 1.5 Primer" document provides an introductory description of the Web Services Policy language. The "Web Services Policy 1.5 Guidelines for Policy Assertion Authors" document is intended to provide guidance for Assertion Authors that will work with the Web Services Policy 1.5 Framework and Attachment Recommendations. It provides best practices and patterns to follow as well as illustrates the care needed in using WS-Policy to achieve the best possible results for interoperability. It is a complementary guide to using the WS-Policy specifications.


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