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Last modified: July 17, 2008
XML Daily Newslink. Thursday, 17 July 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.

Public Final Committee Draft for Topic Maps Query Language (TMQL)

Lars Marius Garshol and Robert Barta (project editors) An announcement issued by Toshiko Kimura for the Secretariat of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 (IPSJ/ITSCJ - Information Processing Society of Japan/Information Technology Standards Commission of Japan) reports on the public release of the Final Committee Draft (FCD) Ballot text for Topic Maps Query Language [TMQL]. ISO/IEC 18048 was prepared by Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information Technology, Subcommittee SC 34, Document Description and Processing Languages. "This [FCD] International Standard defines a query language for Topic Maps known as TMQL (Topic Maps Query Language). The draft was informed by 'Topic Map Query Language, Use Cases' and 'TMQL Requirements', and is submitted for review for interested parties... The document defines a formal language for accessing information organized according to the Topic Maps paradigm. This document specifies syntactic rules to form valid query expressions to extract information from a Topic Maps instance and also provides an informal and a formal semantics for every syntactic form. To constrain the interaction and information flow between a querying application and a TMQL query processor (short: processor) this International Standard also describes an abstract processing environment, loosely defines the passing of parameters into the query process and the exchange of result values. This environment also includes a minimal, predefined set of functions and operators every conformant processor must provide. This International Standard does not define an API (application programming interface) to interact with query processors and also refrains from naming certain error conditions. It also remains silent on other implementation issues, such as optimization or error recovery.

See also: the associated document ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 N1054

Inspired by Annotea: Annotating the Web with Atom
Uche Ogbuji and Eric Larson, IBM developerWorks

What we call Web 2.0 came from several related impulses to make the Web more valuable. One of those impulses is for a 'read-write Web'. Most of the time we use the Web as mere spectators. There are a few publishers (writers) and innumerable readers. More and more people do have the tools to write the Web, but again they are usually just writing to a few small areas where they have control. Many would like to see a more balanced Web where more people can contribute and can do so more widely. The most important Web 2.0 developments (weblogs, weblog comments, wikis, and forums, for example) and resource or media sharing sites (, Flickr, YouTube, and Digg, for example) make it more of a read-write Web. Still there is room to go further. In this article we introduce a subtle but effective approach for widening the space in which average users can write the Web... Comments on weblogs and such sites are a suitable and fairly well-understood starting point for annotating the Web. They associate snippets of text with a URL, which might be a weblog entry, a news article, a media resource, or something similar. There is a limited concept of typing for such comments (grouping them by nature or source). Some are merely pointers to other primary URLs, such as weblog track-backs and ping-backs... The key [...] is to build on the scaffolding of well-established standards. The Atom group of standards, in particular, has a lot to offer. The Atom Threading Extension extends the core Atom syntax with a means of providing context for an Atom entry. Simply, the Atom Threading Extension allows you to declare an entry or feed as being a response or reply to some resource. This extension makes creating feeds for comments and threaded conversations rather obvious... The Atom syntax provides a format for expressing Web annotations. The Atom Publishing Protocol ("AtomPub") provides a framework for building annotation services. In this article we present an annotation server that's no more than a slightly specialized AtomPub server. The only extra requirement is that Atom entries contain a threading element that will be indexed for later queries. The general ideas were explored in the Annotea project of W3C staffers in the early part of this decade. The framework of our approach is the established Atom syntax and the Atom protocol. The code we've presented is just one possible flavor, and you'll find there are many languages and libraries you can use to craft your own implementation. The big lesson is that RESTful architecture makes it pretty easy to build on existing work, and that once you get used to thinking that way, you start focusing less on narrow solutions such as weblog comments, and more on expansive ideas such as annotating the Web.

See also: Atom references

Draft Guidance Issued for Electronic Regulatory Submission
Angie Drakulich, ePT

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a 'Draft Guidance for Industry on Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format' in the Federal Register on July 11, 2008. The draft guidance establishes a pilot program for the industry to voluntarily submit drug-establishment registration and drug-listing information in an electronic format. The e-format ideally will allow the agency to process, review, and archive information more easily and quickly... The standard for electronic submissions will be Extensible Markup Language (XML) in a standard structured-product labeling (SPL) format. The draft guidance explains how companies can transition from paper to an SPL format. The document also discuses how companies can submit additional, useful but not required information that is often included in paper submissions. FDA does not anticipate much new cost associated with electronic submission. According to the draft guidance, free software to create an SPL document will be available and a minor $20.00 electronic-submission-gateway-certificate fee to submit the file will be necessary. The FDA estimates that it may take an additional two hours to prepare an SPL-format submission, according to the draft guidance. The agency also predicts, however, that the burden will decrease over time as companies become familiar with the format. In addition, the new SPL format will allow for multi-establishment and multidrug submissions instead of individual forms currently used with the paper format system.

See also: Structured Product Labeling (SPL)

EFFICIENT: Open Source Project for Visualizing Electronic Transactions
Don Martin and Carl Mattocks, BCM TC Posting

Don Martin, Product Manager with Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor, presented to the OASIS BCM TC an overview of the EFFICIENT software toolset. "EFFICIENT is a visual toolset for the planning, design and prototyping of electronic transactions (messages).  The idea is to force business uses to define their e-business environment using UML and to then get them to validate the messages at the transaction level. The toolset is composed of three parts: a CASE plug-in for MagicDraw UML that allows for the export of UML activity and class diagrams in XPDL and XML Schema format.  It incorporates a workflow engine (WFM Open with an Exist XML database) that manages the model based on the UML models and user defined business rules.  The last part is a web client (Chiba xForms) that allows business users to 'play' the model just as if they were in a normal business environment... The choreography of messages exchanged between partners is represented using an UML activity diagram, where Swim-lanes represent the different roles of the transaction, and object flows represent messages exchanged between activities in these roles. Other UML constructs can be used, like forks, joins, and decisions (the latter in a limited way, as for now only choices between messages are supported)... Inter-Message Rules allow linking data between different messages. They are represented using notes on class diagrams. Default rules can be generated based on the classes reused in different diagrams and the order of messages exchanged. They can also be edited with a small user-interface, or manually. Business Rules allow modelling more advanced constraints on the model. Our toolset support the JBoss Drools rule engine, and its web based management tool 'BRMS' (to be installed separately) can be opened from the plug-in to define business rules. In addition, nested transactions can be defined on activity diagrams, by using a sub activity flow linking to the activity diagram in another package containing the nested transaction... The EFFICIENT project, which was launched in order to help organizations clearly define their electronic transaction standards, is an open-source inititive based on scientific modeling research. Martin's posting contains a file attachment for "Business Models: State of the Art" (describing languages that link business with business process or transaction models).

See also: the posting

Draft Technical Standard: Service-Oriented Architecture Ontology
Staff, Open Group Draft Technical Standard

On behalf of the Open Group, Chris Harding announced the release of public review draft for the "Service-Oriented Architecture Ontology." The authors believe it complements work on OWL-S and WSMO, in that it includes a compatible concept of "Service" and relates this to concepts in other areas, including Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Modeling. This 112-page document defines a formal ontology for Service Oriented Architecture. Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an architectural style that supports service orientation: a way of thinking in terms of services and service-based development and the outcomes of services. The ontology is written in the Web Ontology Language (OWL) defined by the World-Wide Web Consortium (OWL). It contains classes and properties corresponding to the important concepts of SOA. The formal OWL definitions are supplemented by textual explanations of the concepts, with graphic illustrations of the relations between them, and examples of their use. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the whole document. Chapter 2: 'Services, Basic Definitions' describes the basic concepts associated with services. Chapter 3:'Services as Business Activities' describes the concepts associated with activities, and in particular business activities, and describes how they relate to services. Chapter 4: 'Design and Implementation' describes concepts related to the implementation of services, such as choreography, and orchestration. Chapter 5: 'Architecture and Governance' describes concepts related to the development and management of service-oriented architectures, and to the governance of their development, implementation and operation. The Appendix contains the formal OWL definitions of the ontology, collected together... The document goal is to to improve alignment between the business and information technology communities, and facilitate SOA adoption. It does this in two specific ways: (1) It defines the concepts, terminology and semantics of SOA in both business and technical terms, in order to create a foundation for further work in domain-specific areas, enable communications between business and technical people, enhance the understanding of SOA concepts in the business and technical communities, and provide a means to state problems and opportunities clearly and unambiguously to promote mutual understanding. (2) It potentially contributes to model-driven SOA implementation. The ontology is designed for use by: Business people, to give them a deeper understanding of SOA, and its use in the enterprise; Architects, as metadata for architectural artifacts; and Architecture methodologists, as a component of SOA metamodels." The Open Group is a vendor-neutral and technology-neutral consortium, whose vision of Boundaryless Information Flow will enable access to integrated information within and between enterprises based on open standards and global interoperability. The Open Group works with customers, suppliers, consortia, and other standards bodies.

See also: the SOA Ontology reference page

CMU Launches Mobility Research Center
Staff, DDJ

Carnegie Mellon University has launched the Mobility Research Center to study business, organizational, and technical issues related to cell phones, home appliances, and building infrastructures, and to develop underlying technologies that will ensure the privacy, security, and reliability. In conjunction with the new research center, the university's Information Networking Institute (INI) has launched a new master's degree program in mobility. Because handheld devices are so ubiquitous, the demand for the growth and adoption of new technologies to manage data and streamline connections to share photos and video has already exploded into a $70 billion industry. Carnegie Mellon's Mobility Research Center will conduct research to improve hardware and software technology for mobile devices, including studies of how people work, play, shop, and collaborate, and how new applications and services can change their lives, according to Pradeep K. Khosla, the founding director of Carnegie Mellon CyLab and dean of Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering: 'Several hand-held manufacturers, including Motorola and Nokia, are on board to work with us, and we will continue to work with industry to improve mobile applications; the new center is part of our strategy to integrate our campus in Silicon Valley with Pittsburgh.' Increasingly, consumers want handheld devices that can help them find the best route through rush hour traffic or the nearest restroom. Carnegie Mellon researchers are working to expand these 'context aware' systems that ultimately know enough about a user's surroundings to anticipate when the consumer needs certain information." From the Center: "Mobile systems, including notebook computers, mobile phones, and specialized devices, are becoming the dominant mechanism for Internet access, with various networking technologies enabling anywhere-anytime computing, communication and collaboration. Services such as mobile shopping, advertising, reservations and social networking are on the increase. Embedded wireless sensors in appliances, vehicles, infrastructure and the environment will dramatically increase the available information and sources of context. Mobile professionals and young people are already early adopters of these technologies which are dramatically transforming the way in which people work, shop, collaborate and play."

See also: the Mobility Research Center

Five Web 2.0 Dev Lessons for Enterprise IT
Heather Havenstein, InfoWorld

Application development 2.0 emphasizes quick, incremental updates, along with heavy user involvement, and can be beneficial for some enterprises... Yahoo's Flickr unit recently reported that the latest update to the photo sharing Web site went live just before 5 p.m. with 9 changes made by three of its developers. The "deployment" was the 36th new release in a week where 627 changes were made by 21 developers. Such constant tweaking (called a perpetual beta in the Web 2.0 world) is common for companies like Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Flickr that build applications for a consumer market that's always in flux. The quick, incremental updates, along with heavy user involvement, are key characteristics of an emerging software development paradigm championed by a new generation of Web 2.0 startups. The new process, which some champions call application development 2.0, contrast markedly with the traditional corporate waterfall process that separates projects into several distinct phases, ranging from requirements to maintenance. Nonetheless, application development 2.0 could bring significant benefits to corporate IT shops if managers and developers are willing to change. Based on interviews with analysts and executives of Web 2.0 firms, Computerworld compiled a list of five ways that corporate IT managers can benefit from using Web 2.0 development processes. They are: (1) Break the barrier between developers and end-users and involve users in quality assurance processes; (2) Keep it simple; (3) Stick to the script: Web 2.0 companies are partial to dynamic scripting languages like Ruby, Python, Perl, and PHP, finding them better choices for their projects than Sun's Java or Microsoft's .Net; (4) Release early and often; (5) Let users, not developers, determine new features... An overwhelmingly majority (70 percent) of developers surveyed agreed that traditional corporate development teams could benefit from Web 2.0 techniques, specifically the incremental feature release, quick user feedback loops and quality assurance programs that include users.

See also: Wikipedia on Web 2.0

Study: Reform Copyright Law to Save Digital Works
William Jackson, Government Computer News

Although digital works are ubiquitous and easily duplicated, they are also ephemeral and at risk of disappearing unless preservation efforts begin soon after they are created, according to a study by the Library of Congress and three international partners. The library's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program and organizations in Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom called for reform of national and international copyright laws to encourage and enable preservation of such works. 'Traditional works of authorship are increasingly created and disseminated to the public in digital form,' the authors wrote in the study, titled International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation. Libraries, archives and other institutions are hampered in preserving those materials by copyright laws that are geared toward more persistent, physical works. The study recommended that laws permit institutions to preserve works according to international best practices, which include making copies for administrative and technical purposes, migrating works to different formats as technology changes, and maintaining backup copies at multiple institutions to protect against catastrophic loss. In addition to the Library of Congress, the United Kingdom's Joint Information Systems Committee, the Open Access to Knowledge Law Project at Australia's Queensland University of Technology and the SURFfoundation in the Netherlands participated in the study. They reviewed current laws in the four countries and made recommendations for changes. Technology that encourages the production of such works threatens to shorten their lifespan. The report states: "Digital information is ephemeral: It is easily deleted, written over or corrupted. Because information technology, such as hardware, software and digital object formats, evolves so rapidly, it can be difficult to access and use digital materials created only a few years ago. Countless born-digital works are created every day, but countless born-digital works are also lost every day as they are removed, replaced, superseded or left, forgotten, in obsolete formats and media. Digitized and born-digital materials are an important part of the world's cultural heritage, but unless active steps are taken to preserve them, they will be lost."

See also: the online report

OOXML Will Take Second Place
Alex Brown, SourceWire

"Microsoft's recent announcement that its next version of Office will add native support for ODF creates speculation among software rivals. The recently standardised OOXML format will now take second place to Open Document Format (ODF), according to Dr Alex Brown, director of Griffin Brown, and an industry leading data quality specialist who has been closely involved in the International Standardisation of Microsoft's format. According to Dr Brown, OOXML will now represent the 'legacy' of MS Office documents that the world has accumulated to date, following Microsoft's announcment that its Office suite will add native support for ODF. Microsoft's announcement in May of this year that it will support the Open Document Format (ODF) has stimulated discussion in the software industry and among pundits. A free and open file format for electronic office documents, originally developed by Sun Microsystems, ODF is already actively promoted by companies like IBM, Novell, and Sun. Dr Brown commented: 'The world has changed and companies that lock users into propietary software are no longer tolerated. Indeed, many governments have come to view open formats as a public policy issue. One objective of open formats like ODF is to guarantee long-term access to data without legal or technical barriers.' ODF was intended to be an alternative to proprietary formats, including those used by Microsoft Office and other applications... Dr Brown went on to say, 'Software companies should compete on the basis of the quality of their products. The last 18 months have seen them try to compete by influencing the natural course of the International standards process. Now the focus should shift from the standards committees, so that software vendors can concentrate on delivering software that users want'..."

See also: Brian Jones on Open XML Formats


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