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Last modified: December 12, 2007
XML Daily Newslink. Wednesday, 12 December 2007

A Cover Pages Publication
Provided by OASIS and Sponsor Members
Edited by Robin Cover

This issue of XML Daily Newslink is sponsored by:
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

AIIM Adopts Strategic Markup Language (StratML)
Joab Jackson, Government Computer News

The AIIM Standards Board has announced that it is adding Strategic Markup Language (StratML) to its standards program of work. AIIM, based in Silver Spring, Md., is an enterprise content management association. Owen Ambur, former senior architect at the Interior Department, and Adam Schwartz, a program analyst in the Program Management Office at the Government Printing Office, oversaw development of that schema, which is designed to encapsulate strategic plans, performance plans and performance reports in a format based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), the association said last week. The standardized XML template and vocabulary will allow agencies and other organizations to encode their plans and reports so that they can be easily indexed, shared and processed. They will also allow agencies to ensure that those products align with policies, standards, goals and objectives. Four applications have been shown to support StratML: Microsoft's InfoPath and Word applications, Business Web Software's AchieveForms, and FormRouter's PDF-Fillable, Ambur said. In addition, Mark Logic Corp. is developing a StratML search service, and HyperVision is drafting a quick start guide for Word users. John Weiler, executive director and co-founder of the Interoperability Clearinghouse, which brings together standards group for collaboration, said ICH was looking for ways to funnel strategic planning information into the architecture and acquisition process. StratML could play a part.

See also: Strategy Markup Language (StratML)

DITA: Does One Size Fit All?
Bob Doyle, EContent Magazine

The XML dialect of choice is the new DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture), developed originally by IBM and now an OASIS standard. Of twelve XML editors reviewed in June 2006, eight now do DITA, and one new WYSIWYG XML authoring tool has entered the market that does only DITA. The Arbortext Editor, formerly known as the Epic Editor, has been doing DITA as long as anyone, years before it became an OASIS standard. New owner PTC bought Arbortext because its major customers used it and they wanted to integrate the production of technical documentation into the product design process. PTC is "drinking its own champagne" as they convert their own documentation to DITA. They now also offer a ready-made DITA application that does 90 percent of the work of producing a fully-designed service manual. XMetaL was the first XML editor back in 1996 and it jumped on the OASIS DITA standard, integrating the DITA Open Toolkit end-to-end publishing solution bandwagon early. They quickly earned DITA authors mind share and were acquired by Japanese XML publishing powerhouse Justsystems. Adobe added a DITA application pack accessory to FrameMaker 7.2 and have now integrated DITA completely in release 8. The latest XML editor in my 2006 study to add DITA support is SyncRO Soft, a tool popular in academic institutions because it is Java based and runs on all platforms: Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. Syntext Serna is another multi-platform XML editor that, like Arbortext, has been doing DITA its own way for some years. Even less expensive for freelance writers getting started with DITA is the XMLmind XML Editor. XXE is downloadable at no cost for personal use.

See also: DITA references

DITA Specialization Support: It Should Just Work
Eliot Kimber, XML 2007 Lightning Round Presentation

DITA's specialization mechanism both enables sophisticated generic processing and effectively demands that tools provide it. That is, when presented with valid, conforming DITA documents, tools should "just work," applying all appropriate default DITA processing and behavior without any up-front configuration (with the possible exception of specifying the entity resolution catalog needed to resolve references to DTDs and schemas). Not many tools beyond the DITA Open Toolkit actually do just work. RSuite does. In particular, it uses the DITA 1.1 DITAArchVersion attribute to reliably detect DITA documents regardless of what local declaration set or specializations they use. As both an integrator and a provider of a tool designed to be integrated those tools that also just work offer the greatest value to me as an integrator and service provider. I would like to see all DITA-aware tools provide the same level of automatic configuration and processing.

See also: the abstract

W3C Invites Implementations of Pronunciation Lexicon Specification (PLS)
Paolo Baggia (ed), W3C Technical Report

Members of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group have published the Candidate Recommendation for "Pronunciation Lexicon Specification (PLS) Version 1.0." Implementation feedback is welcome through 11-April-2008. A PLS 1.0 Implementation Report Plan is available Implementation Report objectives are to verify that the specification is implementable; testing must demonstrate interoperability of implementations of the specification. A test report must indicate the outcome of each test. Possible outcomes are pass, fail, or not-implemented. The Pronunciation Lexicon Specification provides the basis for describing pronunciation information for use in speech recognition and speech synthesis, for use in tuning applications, e.g. for proper names that have irregular pronunciations. PLS is designed to enable interoperable specification of pronunciation information for both Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Text-To-Speech (TTS) engines, which internally provide extensive high quality lexicons with pronunciation information for many words or phrases. To ensure a maximum coverage of the words or phrases used by an application, application-specific pronunciations may be required. The Working Group has also updated Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) Version 1.1. The Speech Synthesis Markup Language Specification is one of these standards and is designed to provide a rich, XML-based markup language for assisting the generation of synthetic speech in Web and other applications. The essential role of the markup language is to provide authors of synthesizable content a standard way to control aspects of speech such as pronunciation, volume, pitch, rate, etc. across different synthesis-capable platforms. Changes from the previous draft include addition of new "type" attribute with value of "ruby", change of references to "pronunciation alphabet" to be "pronunciation scheme", and modified attribute's names of audio element.

See also: the PLS 1.0 Implementation Report Plan

The ROI of XForms
Dan McCreary, IBM developerWorks

This article examines several methods of calculating the Return on Investment (ROI) of adopting enterprise-wide XForms standards. It explores ROI analysis from several different viewpoints, including the standards perspective and issues around vendor lock-in avoidance strategies. It discusses three ROI models for an enterprise XForms migration: The use of vendor knowledge to convert standard forms to a rich Web-client-based XForms application; an investment and savings calculation over a three-year period; and how XForms can form a synergistic relationship with XML-centric technologies such as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Business Process Management (BPM). The article concludes with a discussion on how to overcome common objections to an XForms initiative. HTML was never designed as an application development language. XForms is a powerful and deep-reaching technology that could have a large impact on an organization's overall IT strategy. On the surface, there are around twenty data elements that are added to XHTML pages to enhance usability. However, underlying XForms is a change in the contract between the browser and all Web-based applications. It changes the Web browser from a "dumb" device that allows you to navigate between Web pages to a "smart" device with a clean and elegant architecture that can load intelligent Web applications and execute as-you-type business rules. When coupled with other XML-centric technologies such as SOA/ESB and BPM, XForms can give an organization a large return on investment.

See also: XML and Forms

Roundtripping Revisited
Bruce Silver, Intelligent Enterprise

In the early days of BPM (four or five years ago) everyone thought BPEL was the BPM standard, at least for runtime execution. Not long after, the importance of business-friendly process modeling came to the fore, and BPMN emerged as the standard for that. The mismatch between graph-oriented BPMN models, where you can route the flow just about anywhere, and block-oriented BPEL, where you can't, didn't seem to worry BPM vendors. After all, a model was just a model, a business requirements document in diagrammatic form. The BPEL designer would use the BPMN as business input to the implementation and go from there. Then a new concept emerged, the BPM Suite, which included process modeling, executable implementation, and BAM in an integrated toolset that promised the improved business-IT alignment and agility needed to cope with ever-changing business requirements. Suddenly the process model became more than a business requirements spec. It was actually the first phase of the process implementation. No problem, said the BPEL vendors. We'll just generate skeleton BPEL from the process model, and use that as the starting point for the BPEL designer. Voila! Business empowerment! Business-IT alignment! But this notion of the interface between process modeling and implementation design as a one-way handoff was flawed from the start... Having been in the roundtripping-is-dead camp for about a year, I now find myself having to confront this issue once again. In my BPMN training, for example, students want to know what strategies or patterns should they use in their BPMN diagrams that will fit well with their expected BPEL implementations. It's not something I expected to think about when I started. In the BPMN specification, there is an attempt to describe simple BPEL mappings for many diagram patterns, but it has been long recognized that certain patterns cannot be mapped in the ways described in the BPMN spec. BPMN tools that validate for BPEL export based on these simple mappings tend to give users a lot of validation errors if the BPMN is not drawn in strict block-oriented fashion...

See also: BPEL references

Exploring Validation in an End-to-end XML Architecture
Chimezie Ogbuji and John Clark, XML 2007 Presentation

An application architecture that uses XML for data storage and message passing throughout the life cycle of the data can leverage powerful data validation techniques early and often. It can identify problems with the data quickly and greatly increase the overall assurance of the correctness of that data. XForms fits naturally into such an architecture, as it requires users to enter their data as XML. As a result, XForms provides a direct interface to the power of XML validation tools for immediate and meaningful feedback to the user about any problems in the data. Further, the use of validation components enables and encourages the reuse of these components at other points of entry into the system, or at other system boundaries. This article sketches the uses of validation in an architecture that operates over XML data that is at least partly entered through human-computer interaction. At the data entry end, the architecture validates data produced from XForms by re-purposing Schematron validation rules for different approaches to helping the user understand problems that might exist in the data. The article also briefly mentions an orthogonal use of the same Schematron rules for validating mappings from legacy data formats such as relational databases to a local XML schema. Multiplexing validation components for multiple uses allows a pervasive level of quality of XML content at the point of entry and retrospectively.

See also: the presentation (ZIP)

What Matters: Thinking of Chimezie Ogbuji
Tim Berners-Lee, Memo to W3C Community

On December 7, 2007 Tim Berners-Lee released a memo to W3C Advisory Committee Members, Chairs, TAG, and other valued participants in the W3C Community 2007: "Sad news from Cleveland." The communication extends sympathies from W3C to Chimezie and his family at a time of unimaginable loss and sadness. Chimezie has been a regular contributor to publications familiar to the XML community, especially documenting the synergy between XML and Python. Tim's letter reads, in part: "Earlier this week, we received tragic news. Chimezie Ogbuji of Cleveland Clinic is a long-time advocate and implementor of Semantic Web technologies, applying them especially to health care delivery. He is an active and valuable contributor to the W3C Semantic Web Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group. Chime and Roschelle, his wife, had gone out to dinner this past Friday evening. They came home to find their home in flames. Their three young daughters, Imose Ikpea, age 6; Chikaora Ogbuji, age 2; and Anyachiemeka Ogbuji, 14 months; died as a result of the fire. We at W3C wish to extend our deepest sympathies and support to Chime, Roschelle, and the extended Ogbuji family. For those of you who know Chime and his brother Uche, information on ways to express your support is available from the Sussex Community Association...

See also: Dan Connolly's blog


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