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Last modified: February 12, 2008
XML Daily Newslink. Tuesday, 12 February 2008

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.

New Draft for W3C Architectural Recommendation "The Self-Describing Web"
Noah Mendelsohn (ed), W3C Draft Tag Finding

A new draft of the TAG Finding on "The Self-Describing Web" is now available as an editor's draft. "Significant changes in this rewrite include: (1) A major new section introduces and highlights the standard HTTP-based retrieval "algorithm" that user agents employ to access self-describing resource representations. (2) There is now extensive discussion of URI-based extensibility, and of the ability of user agents to dynamically acquire rules for interpreting new sorts of content by retrieving OWL ontologies, namespace documents (RDDL), etc. Such dynamic discovery using URIs is now to some degree a unifying theme for the latter half of the finding. Examples are also given of using URIs as the basis for extensible attribute values (e.g. link relationships) and other similar data fields in Web representations. (3) The discussion of RDF and RDFa has been updated and clarified and the section on GRDDL has been added. (4) Numerous examples have been added." Document Abstract: "The Web is designed to support flexible exploration of information, by human users and by automated agents. For such exploration to be productive, information published by many different sources and for a variety of purposes must be comprehensible to a wide range of Web client software. HTTP and other Web technologies can be used to deploy resources that are self-describing, in the sense that only widely available information is necessary for understanding them. Starting with a URI, there is a standard algorithm that a user agent can apply to retrieve and interpret a representation of such resources. Furthermore, when such self-describing resources are linked together, the Web as a whole can support reliable, ad hoc discovery of information. This finding describes how document formats, markup conventions, attribute values, and other data formats can be designed to facilitate the deployment of self-describing Web content."

See also: W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) Findings

Relax-WS: Trying To Make WSDL Easier To Use?
Mark Little, InfoQueue

As with many things concerning Web Services, there are vociferous arguments for and against WSDL—even before WSDL 2.0 poured oil on the fires. One of the main arguments against WSDL is the verbosity and complexity of what's involved in writing a WSDL for a service. However, the Relax-WS project is attempting to provide a solution there. The idea is to extend Relax-NG Compact Syntax by adding support for services, ports, operations and messages. The project aims to encourage developers to think about the WSDL from the start, as part of the service contract and not as an afterthought. From the Google Code project page 'relax-ws: A relaxing way to create web service definitions': "WSDL is a key technology for SOA, and yet creating and editing these files is about as much fun as straightening all the noodles in a bowl of spaghetti with a pair of tweezers. Relax-ws provides a simple, compact syntax for generating WSDL's. It does this by extending RelaxNG Compact syntax with support for services, ports, operations, and messages. Some teams use code-driven development, whereby they write Java or C# interfaces and let their framework generate the WSDL. This is fast for development, but can easily result in platform-specific features sneaking in, which renders the interface unusable for cross-platform clients. An even greater problem with code-driven development is the evaporation of interface metadata that occurs during translation into WSDL. Comments are not converted, nor are any but the most simple type declarations (i.e., the length of an 'xsd:string' field, or the number of digits in a decimal field, etc). These are important attributes for the consumer of the service to know about. The opposite approach is WSDL-driven development. The programmer begins with a WSDL file, and as part of the build generates the service interface that is then implemented by one or more classes. The challenge here lies in creating the WSDL! Relax-WS aims to provide a simple, programmer-friendly syntax, without losing any of the metadata..."

See also: the Google Code web site

Expressing SNMP SMI Datatypes in XML Schema Definition Language
Bob Natale and Yan Li (eds), IETF Internet Draft

Members of the IETF Operations and Management Area Working Group Working Group have published a new Internet Draft in the online directories: "Expressing SNMP SMI Datatypes in XML Schema Definition Language." The memo defines the IETF standard expression of Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) Structure of Management Information (SMI) datatypes in Extensible Markup Language (XML) Schema Definition (XSD) language. The primary objective of this memo is to enable production of XML documents that are as faithful to the SMI as possible, using XSD as the validation mechanism. This memo is the first in a set of three related and (logically) ordered specifications: (1) SNMP SMI Datatypes (RFC 2578) in XSD; (2) SNMP MIB Structure (RFC 2578) in XSD. (3) SNMP Textual Conventions (RFC 2579) in XSD. As a set, these documents define the XSD equivalent of SMIv2 to encourage XML-based protocols to carry, and XML-based applications to use, the information modeled in the SMIv2-compliant Management Information Base ("The MIB"). Various independent schemes have been devised for expressing the SMI datatypes and textual conventions in W3C Schema (XSD). These schemes have exhibited a degree of commonality (especially concerning the numeric SMI datatypes), but also sufficient differences (especially concerning the non-numeric SMI datatypes) to preclude general interoperability. The primary purpose of this memo is to define a standard expression of SMI datatypes in XSD to ensure uniformity and general interoperability in this respect. Internet operators, management tool developers, and users will benefit from the wider selection of management tools and the greater degree of unified management—with attendant improvements in timeliness and accuracy of management information—which such a standard will facilitate.

See also: the IETF Operations and Management Area Working Group Working Group

W3C XML 10 Years
Staff, W3C Announcement

Ten years ago, on 10 February 1998, W3C published the "Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0" specification as a W3C Recommendation. W3C is marking the ten-year anniversary of XML by celebrating "XML10" and extending thanks to the dedicated communities—including people who have participated in W3C's XML groups and mailing lists, the SGML community, and xml-dev—whose efforts have created a successful family of technologies based on the solid XML 1.0 foundation. The success of XML is a strong indicator of how dedicated individuals, working within the W3C Process, can engage with a larger community to produce industry-changing results. "Today we celebrate the success of open standards in preserving Web data from proprietary ownership," said Jon Bosak, who led the W3C Working Group that produced XML 1.0. Tim Bray of Sun Microsystems: "There is essentially no computer in the world, desk-top, hand-held, or back-room, that doesn't process XML sometimes. This is a good thing, because it shows that information can be packaged and transmitted and used in a way that's independent of the kinds of computer and software that are involved. XML won't be the last neutral information-wrapping system; but as the first, it's done very well." Indeed, one can hardly get through the day without using technology that is based on XML in some fashion. When you fill your auto tank with gas, XML often flows from pump to station. When you configure your digital camera, on some models you do so via XML-based graphical controls. When you plug it into a computer, the camera and the operating system communicate with each other in XML. When you download digital music, the software you use to organize it is likely to store information about songs as XML. And when you explore the planet Mars, XML goes with you... W3C would like to extend congratulations to the participants of the XML Working Group that created the standard: Jon Bosak, Paula Angerstein, Tim Bray (co-Editor), James Clark, Dan Connolly, Steve DeRose, Dave Hollander, Eliot Kimber, Tom Magliery, Eve Maler, Murray Maloney, Makoto Murata, Joel Nava, Conleth O'Connell, Jean Paoli (co-Editor), Peter Sharpe, C. M. Sperberg-McQueen (co-Editor), and John Tigue.

See also: the web site

XML at 10
Norm Walsh, Blog

Ten years ago today XML was born. That's when it was first published as a Recommendation. XML goes back a little further than that, it gestated, to stick to the metaphor, for almost two years at the W3C: Dan Connolly announced the creation of the SGML Working Group mailing list on 28-August-1996. It predates even that, of course, in the vision of Yuri Rubinsky, Jon Bosak, and many others who imagined bringing the full richness of generalized markup vocabularies to the then nascent World Wide Web. My personal, professional career goes back to the fall of 1993, so I came onto the scene only late in the development of 'SGML on the Web' as an idea. It's earliest history is lost in the blur of fear, excitement, and delight that I felt as I was thrust by circumstance into the SGML community. I joined O'Reilly on the very first day of an unprecedented two-week period during which the production department, the folks who actually turn finished manuscripts into books, was closed. The department was undergoing a two-week training period during which they would learn SGML and, henceforth, all books would be done in SGML. The day was a Monday in November, 1993; I know this for sure because I still have the T-Shirt... Despite an inauspicious start, I have essentially made my career out of it. I learned SGML at O'Reilly and began working on DocBook, I worked in SGML professional services at Arbortext, and I joined Sun to work in the XML Technology Center. XML has been good to me. Things have not turned out as planned. The economic forces that took over when the web became 'the next big thing' are more interested in pixel-perfect rendering, animation, entertainment, and advertising than in richly structured technical content. HTML 5 may be the last nail in the 'SGML on the Web' coffin, but few would deny that XML has been a huge success. [Note: The DocBook Version 5.0 release is a complete rewrite of DocBook in RELAX NG. The intent of this rewrite is to produce a schema that is true to the spirit of DocBook while simultaneously removing inconsistencies that have arisen as a natural consequence of DocBook's long, slow evolution. The OASIS Technical Committee has taken this opportunity to simplify a number of content models and tighten constraints where RELAX NG makes that possible.]

See also: DocBook Version 5.0

Layer 7 Announces XML Firewall and XML Networking Gateway Products
Staff, Layer 7 Technologies Announcement

Layer 7 Technologies has announced its XML Firewall and XML Networking Gateway software products support the Solaris 10 Operating System (OS) running on SPARC platforms from Sun Microsystems. Layer 7 is the only XML security and networking vendor to offer server software for Solaris 10 OS running on SPARC and x86 platforms through an upgradeable family of XML appliances for Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and Web 2.0 applications. For customers with processor-intensive SOA and Web 2.0 applications, Layer 7 introduced support for Solaris 10 OS on SPARC to further the scalability, density and performance offerings by Sun's SPARC Enterprise Servers. Many of Layer 7's customers use SPARC-based platforms for high-volume data center applications making SPARC technology their first choice for SOA and XML applications. The SecureSpan XML Firewall combines the capabilities of the SecureSpan XML Accelerator and Data Screen with advanced identity and message level security to address the broadest range of behind the firewall, portal and B2B SOA security challenges. The SecureSpan XML Firewall includes support for all leading directory, identity, access control, Single Sign-On (SSO) and Federation services. This provides SOA and security architects unparalleled flexibility in defining and enforcing identity-driven SOA security policies leveraging SSO session cookies, Kerberos tickets, SAML assertions and PKI. The SecureSpan XML Firewall also provides architects with advanced policy controls for specifying message and element security rules including the ability to branch policy based on any message context. Key storage, encryption and signing operations can be handled in FIPS 140-2 certified acceleration hardware onboard the appliance or centrally through Safenet's Luna HSM. The SecureSpan XML Firewall has demonstrated compliance with all major WS* and WS-I security protocols including WS-Security, WS-SecureConversation, WS-SecurityPolicy, WS-Trust, WS-Secure Exchange, WS-Policy and WS-I Basic Security Profile. The SecureSpan Firewall also supports SAML 1.1 and 2.0 both in sender vouches and holder of key models.

See also: SAML references

Yet Another Computer Language: "D"
Martin Heller, InfoWorld

"...Microsoft is designing yet another computer language... it's a declarative language [but] 'Declarative' is an awfully broad term, with multiple meanings. Standard ML is considered declarative, and so are its derivatives OCAML and F#. Prolog and rule-based AI systems are considered declarative. You declare the rules: the logic engine decides how to run them. SQL queries are declarative: you describe the data you want to see, and the query optimizer figures out how to get it out of the database. Haskell is considered declarative as well as functional, not to mention that it has monads... XAML is a declarative language for the domain of graphics. It was designed as an extension of XML. It's such an expressive language that Charlie Petzold, arguably one of XAML's most vocal proponents, built himself a alternative to Microsoft's XAMLPad called XAML Cruncher, so that he could 'interactively type XAML code and see the object it creates.' In Visual Studio 2008, Microsoft included a bidirectional, split-screen XAML designer, so that you can create XAML by dragging and dropping objects and by typing XAML code, with the ability to freely switch back and forth between the two methods. I freely admit to needing these tools; I can almost never write XAML that will display correctly on the first try. Watching the Connected Systems Division (CSD) at Microsoft over the years, it has been clear that they have been on a code-reduction path. Why? SOAP was invented by Don Box and others to be an XML-based lingua franca for communication among disparate computer applications and systems. The functional deficiencies of SOAP were addressed by the WS-* series of standards, to give it security, authentication, reliability, and so on. All of those standards made it harder to write conformant client and server code, raising the complexity by orders of magnitude..." From Microsoft's "XAML Overview" document: "XAML simplifies creating a UI for the .NET Framework programming model. You can create visible UI elements in the declarative XAML markup, and then separate the UI definition from the run-time logic by using code-behind files, joined to the markup through partial class definitions. The ability to mix code with markup in XAML is important because XML by itself is declarative, and does not really suggest a model for flow control. An XML based declarative language is very intuitive for creating interfaces ranging from prototype to production, especially for people with a background in web design and technologies. Unlike most other markup languages, XAML directly represents the instantiation of managed objects. This general design principle enables simplified code and debugging access for objects that are created in XAML."

See also: the XAML Overview


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