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Last modified: August 14, 2008
XML Daily Newslink. Thursday, 14 August 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.

Using XML and Databases: W3C Standards in Practice
Bill Trippe and Dale Waldt, Gilbane Group Analyst White Paper

This Gilbane Group white paper sponsored by EMC provides an excellent survey of technical issues, standards, and use cases relevant to the adoption of XML-based technologies for industrial strength applications supporting enterprise content management. The paper observes that "XML presents a number of interesting challenges and opportunities for data storage. Relational databases and full-text search mechanisms that have been the backbone of many applications are not designed to manage XML content effectively. A new class of databases has emerged that is designed specifically to manage XML content. Typically called 'XML Native Databases' or just 'XML databases,' they incorporate functionality that greatly improves the management, searching, and manipulation of XML to produce the most effective XML data management solution. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the standards organization that developed XML, has also developed many standards that can be used to access, search, process, and store XML data. XML databases take advantage of these standards to provide efficient and precise access, query, storage, and processing capabilities not found in traditional database technology. The result is that applications using XML databases are more efficient and better suited for managing XML data. These W3C standards, including XML Schemas, XSLT, DOM, XLink, and XQuery, are well established and tested in real world applications. The XML databases that take advantage of them provide the platform for industrial strength applications to manage XML content. Like any new technology, adoption is slow at first. Then as the technology matures and understanding on how to best deploy increases, applications emerge that demonstrate the advantages of the approach. Today, we can find many applications to manage XML content that demonstrate the power and flexibility that can only be achieved through XML-native databases. Information intensive companies such as the airline and manufacturer described in this paper have achieved significant technical and business benefits from their use of XML standards and database technology over alternative approaches."

Test Center Preview: Sun JavaFX Preview SDK
James R. Borck, InfoWorld

Sun's new rich Internet application framework should be a hit with Java developers, but the promising preview trails Adobe Flex/AIR and Microsoft Silverlight. Sun Microsystems recently unveiled the first public beta of its JavaFX framework for RIAs (rich Internet applications). There's a lot to like about the new SDK. It's rich in capabilities, and its Java-like syntax makes it a good springboard to RIAs for Java developers. But even in Java shops, Sun and JavaFX are behind not just one eight ball but two. Heavyweight competitors Adobe and Microsoft, with Flex/AIR and Silverlight, respectively, offer RIA toolsets that are not only far more mature but also include tools that bridge the all-important gap between designers and coders. The freely downloadable JavaFX Preview SDK bundles the JavaFX compiler and runtime, the NetBeans IDE, and a NetBeans plug-in for coding and debugging in the new JavaFX Script language. Sun has also thoughtfully included a good number of coding samples and templates... Java developers will no doubt find the declarative syntax to make for speedier UI development and, ultimately, more appealing interfaces than flat Swing calls. Interestingly, Sun has eschewed the XML-based abstraction favored by, well, every other major RIA vendor. Although I prefer XML for its clean interface declaration, there is something to be said for the less-verbose, code-centric approach taken in JavaFX... The JavaFX SDK is only a preview edition—and a good one, at that. With Version 1 not set to launch until the fall, Sun still has some time to shine up this project. Easy integration with existing Java apps should make JavaFX an immediately attractive option for creating enterprise dashboards or bringing a modern look to Java relics. How far Sun's mature technology stack and the long reach of Java can take JavaFX against Adobe and Microsoft remains to be seen, but the Java camp finally has a heavyweight in the RIA game. It's long overdue.

BizTalk EDI: Build a Robust EDI Solution with BizTalk Server
Mark Beckner, MSDN Magazine

This article introduces the EDI functionality within BizTalk Server 2006 R2, illustrating schema creation, document mapping, EDI delivery and transmission, and exception handling. Electronic Document Interchange (EDI) is a technology standard that has been around for decades. So mixing it with a modern service-oriented architecture (SOA) and the latest release of BizTalk Server may seem an unlikely combination. Yet EDI encompasses the largest share of real-world business-to-business commerce—nearly 90 percent of the current market—and is growing rapidly year over year. As companies relying on EDI evolve their IT architectures, the capabilities of BizTalk Server 2006 R2 are proving to be a reliable, robust, extensible, supportable, and intuitive way to solve both SOA and EDI infrastructure needs... BizTalk Server now provides the same level of service that many value-added networks (VANs) provide, with the additional benefit of the underlying BizTalk components that have been essential to enterprise integration solutions and SOAs. These include the development of business workflows through orchestrations, access to a business rule engine, extensive document-tracking capabilities, state management, and other similar functions. EDI implementations in BizTalk Server 2006 R2 begin with developing the schemas that relate to the documents being traded. Once the documents have been defined, trading partners are created as BizTalk parties and their specifications are configured to ensure the proper processing and routing of EDI documents. Next, the specifics around how documents will be delivered are implemented through a combination of party configurations and BizTalk adapters. When solutions are in place, document flow can be monitored in real time through the use of EDI reports. All of these capabilities ride on top of the BizTalk infrastructure and benefit from all the standard components such as the MessageBox, orchestrations, ports, and pipelines... BizTalk Server 2006 R2 ships with thousands of predefined EDI schemas that function as starting points for all documents exchanged by trading partners. Generally these schemas are altered to reflect specific expected formats. Though EDI has document standards, the reality is that two trading partners who both exchange 810 Invoice documents may still have two different representations of the 810 and therefore require two different schemas. These schemas will be very closely related and may only differ in one or two segments. For example, one may truncate a street address at 50 characters while another allows for 100. But even this small difference requires that the default 810 XML Schema Definition (XSD) be modified and implemented separately for both parties...

See also: BizTalk Server 2006 R2 EDI Functionality

Markup Discontinued: Discontinuity in TexMecs, Goddag Structures, and Rabbit/Duck Grammars
C. M. Sperberg-McQueen and Claus Huitfeldt, Balisage 2008 Presentation

That the textual phenomena of interest for markup are not always hierarchically arranged is well known and widely discussed. Less frequently discussed is the fact that they are also not always contiguous, so that the units of our analysis cannot always correspond to single elements in the document. Various notations for discontinuous elements exist, but the mapping from those notations to data structures has not been well analysed or understood. And as far as we know, there are no standard mechanisms for validating discontinuous elements. We propose a data structure (a modification of the Goddag structure) to better handle discontinuous elements: we relax the rule that every pair of elements where one contains the other be related by a path of parent/child links. Parent/child links are then not an automatic result of containment. We conclude with a brief sketch of the issues involved in extending current validation mechanisms to handle discontinuity... A number of questions remain open and will require further work: (1) Can a principled set of criteria be found for assigning parent/child relations to node pairs? What are they? Do the criteria apply at the meta-language level, or are they a function of how document type designers specify the document types they are working with? (2) Can discontinuous elements be integreated into the notion of validity associated with rabbit/duck grammars? (3) Can the algorithms for validation with rabbit/duck grammars be extended to handle discontinuous elements? (4) Can the ideas of multi-colored trees be applied successfully to Goddag structures?

See also: Markup Languages and (Non-) Hierarchies

Is Office Suite Markup Worth the Trouble?
Simon St. Laurent, O'Reilly Blog

In his Extreme [Balisage 2008] "first person" talk, Patrick Durusau asked some of the right questions about the recent explosive battles over standardizing XML generated by Microsoft Office and I can't share his conviction, though, that getting through this firefight is actually worthwhile. Durusau connected the Office Suite battles to XML's long-standing quest for platform independence, freedom from vendor lock-in, reliable longevity of data, and many of the other ideals that have motivated the core community over the years. He articulated the basic problem that has kept users from a deep interest in XML for documents over the years: they don't care about technical issues like XML validity, but rather about "you had it, I got it, and now I can look at it." Durusau, though an editor of ODF, has been remarkably even-handed in his discussions of the office format scrum, seeing the battle as more of a distraction from the value of the underlying project than a sign that the underlying project has a deep flaw. I applaud his generosity, but find his even-handed disposition all too positive about the value of what's actually been accomplished... The underlying formats are both improvements in openness, yes, relative to the previous pain of interpreting obscure binary file formats for which interchange was an afterthought. Those improvements, however, aren't particularly the reason for the standardization battle. While I've perceived ODF as having a more open process than OOXML, both formats had lots of software before they arrived at the question of how best to share their data. The battle over standardization is less a battle over formats and more a battle over who gets to label their products as "open" to various markets... It's not at all clear to me, however, that the "carrot" Durusau mentioned, of 400 million users, really exists, at least from a markup perspective. That may well be the market that the vendors are fighting over, but it's hard for me to see any great benefit coming to those 400 million users.

See also: the presentation abstract

Diving Deep Into Amazon Web Services
Rick Grehan, InfoWorld

Amazon's Web Services (AWS) are based on a simple concept: Amazon has built a globe-spanning hardware and software infrastructure that supports the company's Internet business, so why not modularize components of that infrastructure and rent them? It is akin to a large construction company in the business of building interstate highways hiring out its equipment and expertise for jobs such as putting in a side road, paving a supermarket parking lot, repairing a culvert, or just digging a backyard swimming pool. More specifically, AWS makes various chunks of Amazon's business machinery accessible and usable via REST or SOAP-based Web service calls. Those chunks can be virtual computer systems with X2GHz processors and 2GB of RAM, storage systems capable of holding terabytes of data, databases, payment management systems, order tracking systems, virtual storefront systems, combinations of all the above... The AWS services fall into three categories: infrastructure services, e-commerce services, and Web information services. The infrastructure services are composed of the Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2); Simple Storage Service (S3), a persistent storage system; the Simple Database (SimpleDB), which implements a remotely accessible database; and Amazon's Simple Queuing Service (SQS), a message queue service and the agent for binding distributed applications formed from the combination of EC2, S3, and SimpleDB... While Amazon S3 is designed for large, unstructured blocks of data, SimpleDB is built for complex, structured data. As with the other services, the name says it all. SimpleDB implements a database that sits behind a lightweight, easily mastered query language that nonetheless supports most of the database operations (searching, fetching, inserting, and deleting) you'll likely need. In keeping SimpleDB simple, Amazon has followed the principle that the best APIs are those with minimal entry points: I count seven for SimpleDB... Amazon SQS is a message queuing service in the vein of JMS or MQSeries—only simpler... The Alexa Web Information Service lets you dip into traffic data gathered by various Alexa tools deployed about the Internet. You can query information for a specific URL, such as site contact information, traffic statistics (going back five years), and more. You can also discover how many links are on a given page, how many URLs are embedded in JavaScript, or the more interesting statistic of how may other sites link to the target. Some of the important AWS components are still in beta. SimpleDB, in fact, was in limited beta and not accepting new users at the time of this writing.

W3C Invites Implementations of Element Traversal Specification
Doug Schepers (ed), W3C Technical Report

W3C's Web Applications Working Group invites implementation of the Candidate Recommendation of the "Element Traversal Specification." This specification defines the ElementTraversal interface, intended to provide a more convenient alternative to existing Document Object Model (DOM) navigation interfaces, with a low implementation footprint. It does so by allowing script navigation of the elements of a DOM tree, excluding all other nodes in the DOM, such as text nodes. It also provides an attribute to expose the number of child elements of an element. The DOM Level 1 Node interface defines 11 node types, but most commonly authors wish to operate solely on nodeType 1, the Element node. Other node types include the Document element and Text nodes, which include whitespace and line breaks. DOM 1 node traversal includes all of these node types, which is often a source of confusion for authors and which requires an extra step for authors to confirm that the expected Element node interfaces are available. This introduces an additional performance constraint. ElementTraversal is an interface which allows the author to restrict navigation to Element nodes. It permits navigation from an element to its first element child, its last element child, and to its next or previous element siblings. Because the implementation exposes only the element nodes, the memory and computational footprint of the DOM representation can be optimized for constrained devices. The DOM Level 1 Node interface also defines the childNodes attribute, which is a live list of all child nodes of the node; the childNodes list has a length attribute to expose the total number of child nodes of all nodeTypes, useful for preprocessing operations and calculations before, or instead of, looping through the child nodes. The ElementTraversal interface has a similar attribute, childElementCount, that reports only the number of Element nodes, which is often what is desired for such operations.

See also: the W3C Web Applications (WebApps) Working Group

Sun Releases Beta of NetBeans IDE
Paul Krill, InfoWorld

A beta release of the open source NetBeans 6.5 IDE is being offered by Sun Microsystems. NetBeans 6.5 features a more user-friendly interface and supports development with multiple languages. The beta, available for download, has features such as an IDE-wide "QuickSearch" shortcut, a more user-friendly interface, and an automatic Compile on Save feature. Developers can build applications for Java, PHP, C/C++, Groovy, Grails, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and AJAX. Web frameworks are supported such as Hibernate, Spring, and JavaServer Faces. The Glassfish application server and databases also are supported. The beta release serves as an update to a Milestone 1 release offered for NetBeans 6.5. The new version officially is called NetBeans 6.5 Milestone 2. The general release of NetBeans 6.5 previously has been set for October 2, 2008. Sun also has expressed intentions to eventually add Python language support to NetBeans. Also on Wednesday, Jaspersoft is announcing the availability of business intelligence development capabilities for NetBeans and upgraded business intelligence support for Sun's MySQL database. The Jaspersoft iReport plug-in for NetBeans is a graphical report and dashboard tool for JasperReports, which is an open source reporting product.

See also: the NetBeans IDE web site


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