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Last modified: August 25, 2008
XML Daily Newslink. Monday, 25 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:
Oracle Corporation

The Metalink Download Description Format
Anthony Bryan (ed), IETF Internet Draft

Anthony Bryan of the Metalinker Project published an initial IETF Internet Draft documenting "The Metalink Download Description Format." Metalink is "an XML-based document format that describes a file or lists of files to be added to a download queue. Lists are composed of a number of files, each with an extensible set of attached metadata. For example, each file can have a description, checksum, and list of URIs that it is available from. The primary use case that Metalink addresses is the description of downloadable content in a format so download agents can act intelligently and recover from common errors with little or no user interaction necessary. These errors can include multiple servers going down and data corrupted in transmission... A Metalink Document describes a file or group of files, how to access them, and metadata that identifies them." As presented on the web site: "Metalink is an open specification that harnesses the speed and power of peer to peer networking, FTP, and HTTP with a single click. If one link or server fails, download automatically continues using another. The technology minimizes and distributes traffic so individual servers are under less strain. Downloads are verified for enhanced reliability, and support extremely fast download speeds. Automatic error recovery and repair of corrupted downloads are supported. The technology combines FTP and HTTP with optional Peer-to-peer (P2P, shared bandwidth). There is no Single Point of Failure (SPOF) like FTP or HTTP URLs, so it's more fault tolerant."

See also: Metalink Features

OASIS Open Document Format Interoperability and Conformance (OIC) TC
Staff, OASIS Announcement

OASIS members have submitted a draft charter for a proposed "Open Document Format Interoperability and Conformance (OIC) Technical Committee." An comment period is open through 8-September-2008 for OASIS members. Institutional members contributing to the proposal represent Ars Aperta, IBM, Google, Novell, Sun Microsystems, and U.S. Department of Defense. The purpose of the proposed OIC TC is to "produce materials and host events that will help implementors create applications which conform the ODF standard and which are able to interoperate... The OpenDocument Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) OASIS Standard defines an XML schema and semantics for a document format for office applications. OpenDocument Format is suitable for office documents, including text documents, spreadsheets, charts and graphical documents like drawings or presentations, but is not restricted to these kinds of documents. There are several commercial and open source applications available based on the OpenDocument Format, with more currently under development. With the depth and breadth of functionality specified by OpenDocument Format (ODF), achieving conformance and interoperability requires attention to numerous details and diverse requirements... Initially and periodically thereafter, the OIC TC will: review the current state of conformance and interoperability among a number of ODF implementations; produce reports on overall trends in conformance and interoperability that note areas of accomplishment as well as areas needing improvement; recommend prioritized activities for advancing the state of conformance and interoperability among ODF implementations in general without identifying or commenting on particular implementations. The TC will also collect the provisions of the ODF standard, and of standards normatively referenced by the ODF standard, and produce a comprehensive conformity assessment methodology specification which enumerates all collected provisions, as well as specific actions recommended to test each provision, including definition of preconditions, expected results, scoring and reporting...

See also: the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) TC

Java/JRuby Developers, Say Open 'Sesame' to the Semantic Web
Mark Watson,

The semantic web enables you to use information from disparate sources in different formats/schemas without having to convert the data to a standard format. The core concept of the semantic web is integrating and using data from different sources. Using semantic web technologies such as RDF/RDFS and the SPARQL query language to integrate and use data from disparate sources has some advantages over using a standard relational database. The Resource Description Framework (RDF) uses predicates to define relationships between data objects, and RDF Schema (RDFS), which is written in RDF, offers a modeling language for knowledge representation and ontology development. Used together, these technologies enable you to use information from disparate sources in different formats/schemas without having to convert the data to a "standard format"—as you would with a relational database... This article introduces Java developers to semantic web application development using Java and JRuby. It demonstrates how to employ the semantic web's functionality through an application example that processes news articles to identify and store (in an RDF repository) industry terms and the names of people and places. The example uses the Sesame libraries for RDF storage, RDFS inferencing, and running SPARQL queries, and the downloadable source code provides a simple wrapper API for Sesame and some examples of queries against sample RDF data... I suggest that you look in two directions for starting your own semantic web projects: (1) Publish your own data sources as RDF, and then provide consumers of your data with RDFS and example SPARQL queries to help them get started. (2) Identify sources of RDF data than can enhance your own web applications. Use SPARQL queries to collect data for your own use.

See also: SPARQL Query Language for RDF

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 for "Expressing SNMP SMI Datatypes in XML Schema Definition Language." Numerous uses exist (both within and outside the traditional IETF network management community) for the expression of management information described in and accessible via SMI Management Information Base (MIB) modules as XML documents. For example, XML-based management applications which want to incorporate MIB modules as data models and/or to access MIB module instrumentation via gateways to SNMP agents will benefit from an IETF standard mapping of SMI datatypes and structures to XML documents via XSD. MIB data models are described using SMIv2 (RFC 2578) and, for legacy MIBs, SMIv1 (RFC 1155). MIB data is conveyed via SNMP using the base datatypes defined in the SMI. The SMI allows for creation of derivative datatypes, termed "textual conventions" ("TCs"), each of which has a unique name, a syntax based on a core SMI datatype, and relatively precise application-level semantics. TCs are used principally to facilitate correct application-level handling of MIB data and for the convenience of humans reading MIB modules and appropriately rendered MIB data output. Various independent schemes have been devised for expressing the SMI datatypes and TCs in 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 base 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. This memo is the first in a set of three related and (logically) ordered specifications: (1) SMI Base Datatypes (RFC 2578) in XSD; (2) SMI 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 SMIv2-compliant MIB modules. This work defines XSD equivalents of the datatypes and data structures (RFC 2578) and the textual conventions (RFC 2579) defined in the SMIv2 standard (STD58) to encourage efficient reuse of existing (including future) MIB modules and instrumentation by XML-based management protocols and applications.

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

This Mote's for You: Smart Dust Wireless Sensor Networks
Charles Waltner, Cisco Systems Report

A big part of making buildings smart is giving them a way to gather information about the physical world. Though miniature sensors of all stripes are now widely available, the challenge has been in connecting these devices together. Standard wired and "Wi-Fi" networks have proven cumbersome and expensive for linking hundreds or thousands of sensors that could be in walls, ceilings, windows, desks, security badges, or virtually anywhere in an office building, manufacturing facility, or outdoor area. So for the past few years researchers have been working on new kinds of low-power, low-bandwidth wireless "mesh" networks. One of the leaders in this field is Kris Pister, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and chief technology officer for Dust Networks, a Hayward, Calif., start-up he launched in 2002. More than a decade ago Pister helped coin the concept of "smart dust" to describe a network of miniature wireless sensors called "motes" (now about 12 millimeters square but likely to become as small as a pinhead). These devices can run on micro-batteries for up to 10 years. The idea is to be able to sprinkle these sensors throughout a building, home, industrial facility, or even a forest or field and have them easily form a pervasive monitoring system. According to a recent article in The New York Times, technology companies are now developing wireless micro-sensors for the home to create "magic carpets" and other ways for healthcare providers and relatives to remotely monitor the activities of the elderly who are living alone. Pister expects dust sensor technology to become mainstream as wireless sensor networks gain popularity and are used for such broader applications as healthcare or smart building controls. Motes now cost $10 to $100 each, but Pister says prices should drop rapidly. Pister says Dust Networks uses a communications protocol that is "like IP but a little different." The company is now working with the main Internet standards body, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), to develop an IP-based standard for wireless sensor networks. He says Cisco Systems is actively supporting this effort. Also, Cisco has been working with Dust Networks and others to develop comprehensive wireless network systems for industrial production facilities. Currently, sensors on Dust Networks' wireless systems can easily link to Internet-based networks through translation gateways, and the data collected by the motes are formatted in Extensible Markup Language (XML), a common Internet protocol..." [Note: Technology relevant to wireless sensor networks is being developerd in the IETF Routing Over Low power and Lossy Networks (ROLL) Working Group. The OGC Sensor Web Enablement is developing several XML-based "interoperability interfaces and metadata encodings that enable real time integration of heterogeneous sensor webs into the information infrastructure. Developers will use these specifications in creating applications, platforms, and products involving Web-connected devices such as flood gauges, air pollution monitors, stress gauges on bridges, mobile heart monitors, Webcams, and robots as well as space and airborne earth imaging devices."]

See also: the IETF ROLL Working Group Charter

IE 8 to Include Private Browsing Feature
Robert Vamosi, CNET

"As CNET News first reported last week, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 will include a way to surf somewhat anonymously, allowing the user to suspend browsing history, cookies, and other identifying information. Mozilla had considered such a feature for its Firefox 3 release, but dropped it for technical reasons. Apple Safari also includes a similar feature. Known as InPrivate, Microsoft is touting the feature as one of several security enhancements within its next major browser release. The scenarios for using InPrivate include when you're using someone else's computer, when you need to buy a gift for a loved one without ruining the surprise, or when you're at an Internet kiosk and don't want the next person to know which Web site you visited. While you can currently clear the browser cache with a mouse click, it's an all-or-nothing action. InPrivate temporarily suspends the automatic caching functions, allowing you to keep the rest of your browsing history intact. The IE development team at Microsoft has more details about InPrivate, including a video... InPrivate will be available in IE8 Beta 2, which is expected to be released sometime before the end of the month. Final release for the browser remains scheduled for November 2008." From the IE blog: "InPrivate Browsing: If you are using a shared PC, a borrowed laptop from a friend, or a public PC, sometimes you don't want other people to know where you've been on the web. Internet Explorer 8's InPrivate Browsing makes that 'over the shoulder' privacy easy by not storing history, cookies, temporary Internet files, or other data. While InPrivate Browsing is active, the following takes place: (1) New cookies are not stored (all new cookies become 'session' cookies, existing cookies can still be read; the new DOM storage feature behaves the same way); (2) New history entries will not be recorded; (3) New temporary Internet files will be deleted after the Private Browsing window is closed; (4) Form data is not stored; (5) Passwords are not stored; (6) Addresses typed into the address bar are not stored; (7) Queries entered into the search box are not stored; (8) Visited links will not be stored."

See also: the IE Blog 'IE8 and Privacy'

Browser Extension Thwarts Internet Eavesdropping
Staff, DDJ News

The growth of shared Wi-Fi and other wireless computer networks has increased the risk of eavesdropping on Internet communications, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have devised a low-cost system that can thwart these "Man-in-the-Middle" (MitM) attacks. The system, called Perspectives, also can protect against attacks related to a recently disclosed software flaw in the Domain Name System (DNS), the Internet phone book used to route messages between computers. The researchers (David Andersen, assistant professor of computer science, Adrian Perrig, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and public policy, and Dan Wendlandt, a Ph.D. student in computer science) have incorporated Perspectives into an extension for the popular Mozilla Firefox v3 browser than can be downloaded free of charge. Perspectives employs a set of friendly sites, or "notaries," that can aid in authenticating Web sites for financial services, online retailers and other transactions requiring secure communications. By independently querying the desired target site, the notaries can check whether each is receiving the same authentication information (a digital certificate), in response. If one or more notaries report authentication information that is different than that received by the browser or other notaries, a computer user would have reason to suspect that an attacker has compromised the connection. Certificate authorities, such as VeriSign, Comodo and GoDaddy, already help authenticate Web sites and reduce the risk of MitM attacks. The Perspectives system provides an extra measure of security in those cases but will be especially useful for the growing number of sites that do not use certificate authorities and instead use less expensive "self-signed" certificates...

See also: the Perspectives web site


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