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Last modified: December 15, 2008
XML Daily Newslink. Monday, 15 December 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.

Ten Reasons Why Saxon XQuery is Fast
Michael Kay, IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin

Michael Kay reports that the December 2008 IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin "Special Issue on XQuery Processing: Practice and Experience" included publication of "Ten Reasons Why Saxon XQuery is Fast." Kay notes that "nearly all of what it says applies equally to XSLT." Abstract: "This paper describes the internal features of the Saxon XQuery processor that make the most significant contribution to its speed of execution. For each of the features, an attempt is made to quantify the contribution, in most cases by comparing performance achieved when the feature is enabled or disabled." Excerpt: "Saxon is an implementation of XQuery written in Java. It implements the XQuery 1.0 specification in full, with the exception of the static typing feature, but including support for schema-aware processing. It also implements the XQuery Update specification, which is currently a W3C Candidate Recommendation. Saxon also implements XSLT 2.0, XPath 2.0, XML Schema 1.0, and a significant subset of the new features in the draft XML Schema 1.1 specification. In fact Saxon started life as an XSLT processor, and was later adapted to handle XQuery as well. The two languages are implemented as different syntax frontends to the same run-time engine; both compilers generate the same code and at run-time there is essentially no knowledge of whether the code originated as XSLT or XQuery. Saxon is available in several versions. The open-source product, Saxon-B, implements all the mandatory features of the W3C specifications. The commercial version of the product, Saxon-SA, provides additional optional features, including schema processing, schema-aware XSLT and XQuery processing, and XQuery Update, as well as a number of performance-oriented features including a more advanced query optimizer, support for streamed query execution, document projection, and Java code generation. Saxon is released on both the Java and .NET platforms. The code is written in 100% pure Java. The .NET version is created by cross-compiling the Java bytecode into .NET IL code, using the open-source IKVMC cross-compiler... Saxon has been under development for over ten years, and the size of the code base is now some 180,000 non-comment lines, excluding test material and tooling. The development objectives for Saxon are, in order of priority: (1) Rigorous standards conformance; (2) Reliability; (3) Usability (primarily of interfaces and error messages); and (4) Performance. Few of the [discussed] mechanisms are unique to Saxon; what makes Saxon distinctive is the deployment of a balanced portfolio of techniques to deliver efficient query execution over a variety of user workloads, coupled with a determination to place other qualities of the product (standards conformance, reliability, usability) ahead of raw performance. In a crowded marketplace with over 50 XQuery implementations competing for user attention, I believe it is this balanced approach that has led many users to make Saxon their preferred choice.

See also: the IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin special issue

W3C Issues Call for Review of EMMA Annotation Markup Language
Paolo Baggia, Daniel Burnett, Jerry Carter (et al., eds), W3C Technical Report

The W3C "EMMA: Extensible MultiModal Annotation Markup Language" specification has been released as a W3C Proposed Recommendation. W3C publishes a technical report as a Proposed Recommendation to indicate that the document is a mature technical report that has received wide review for technical soundness and implementability and to request final endorsement from the W3C Advisory Committee. The W3C Multimodal Interaction Working Group aims to develop specifications to enable access to the Web using multimodal interaction. This document is part of a set of specifications for multimodal systems, and provides details of an XML markup language for containing and annotating the interpretation of user input. Examples of interpretation of user input are a transcription into words of a raw signal, for instance derived from speech, pen or keystroke input, a set of attribute/value pairs describing their meaning, or a set of attribute/value pairs describing a gesture. The interpretation of the user's input is expected to be generated by signal interpretation processes, such as speech and ink recognition, semantic interpreters, and other types of processors for use by components that act on the user's inputs such as interaction managers. Members of the W3C Multimodal Working Group believe that this specification addresses its requirements and all Last Call and Candidate Recommendation issues. Known implementations are documented in the "EMMA 1.0 Implementation Report," along with the associated suite of test assertions. Since the Candidate Recommendation, a number of small clarifications have been added to the text of the specification in order to address feedback received with the implementation reports. Changes from Candidate Recommendation can be found in Appendix F. In the Candidate Recommendation phase, a total of eleven implementation reports were received from ten different companies and universities. Details of the received implementations can be found in the EMMA 1.0 Implementation Report. Sufficient implementations of all of the features in the EMMA specification were received, including those marked at risk in the Candidate Recommendation, and so no features from the Candidate Recommendation have been dropped from the Proposed Recommendation. [Note the application/emma+xml media type registration request, and approval.]

See also: the W3C news item

Web Services Study Group (WSSG) Releases Updated Web Services Standards Inventory Database
François Coallier, WSSG Announcement

Members of the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Web Services Study Group (WSSG) have published two updated documents relating to the Web Services Standards Inventory Database. WSSG was chartered to elaborate a strategy for JTC 1 contributions to Web services standardization. The group assesses how JTC 1 activities are relevant to Web services standardization and how the Web services activities of organizations external to JTC 1 may benefit from JTC 1 involvement. The Japanese National Body recently published document N061 "Summary of Update Process of 'Web Services Standards Inventory Database' and the Points Noticed During the Update", together with N062, which lists "Specifications to be listed in Web Services Standards Inventory Database." N062 is a 34-page PDF document providing a "List of Web Services-Related Standards." In addition to the expected metadata fields (e.g., title, version, publication date, organization, abstract [etc.]), this document also indicates for each specification the number of other standards that directly reference the (subject) standard in a section of Normative References.

See also: the latest WSSG document register

Converting XML Schemas to Schematron (#13): Identify Constraints
Rick Jelliffe, O'Reilly Technical

A feature of XML Schemas (XSD) we have not looked at in this series so far has been integrity constraints. XML Schemas does provide an ID datatype which provides the same function as DTD's ID attribute type. But it also goes beyond that with special integrity constraints. Interestingly enough, for the would-be Schematron implementer, is that XSD abandons the roccoccoccooned intricacies of its complex type derivation system entirely for integrity constraints: instead the elements of interested are selected by a simple kind of XPath. This article sketches out how to implement the same functionality as XSD's integrity constraints in Schematron. These XPaths are in selector attributes, and pretty much exactly match Schematron's 'rule/@context' attributes: all that is needed is to remove any leading './/'...

See also: Schematron references

WS-I Profiles Case Study: Ford and AIAG
Staff, Web Services Interoperability Organization Announcement

The Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) has published a case study that describes how its Profiles enabled the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) to develop the interoperable, secure set of cross-supply-chain process templates that Ford Motor Company required. WS-I is an open industry organization chartered to establish Best Practices for Web services interoperability. The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) is a not-for-profit association serving the automotive industry, with 1100 members from around the world. Ford is an American multinational corporation and the world's fourth-largest automaker. The deliverables created for Ford are available through AIAG to all of its members... Ford was seeking to establish reliable information channels and processes that would work across their entire supply chain. Ford approached AIAG with the goal of developing processes that would be interoperable and secure for all points in the supply chain, not only inside Ford. Ford wanted to be able to plug securely into a service architecture designed for business-tobusiness use: an approach that would work between and among organizations, versus a collection of proprietary technologies for individual members of the supply chain. Upon investigation, a Web services implementation promised the best combination of security, reliability, integration ease and service orientation, and the decision was made to employ WS-I Profiles. An AIAG Work Group, co-chaired by Faisal Waris from Ford and composed of people from organizations that included Ford, General Motors, IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu, iConnect, Axway, NIST and Wipro, proceeded in stages: first the proof of concept, an inventory management project; second, adding additional capacity to the transport layer; and third, involving more vendors, a Kanban implementation that first used simple Web services, then applied more advanced specifications... Today, Ford's enterprise policies require WS-I Profile conformance for Web services implementations. The company is now using WS-I profiles in the development of business-tobusiness production processes.

See also: WS-I references

IBM Proposes XBRL for Risk Reporting Standard
Darryl K. Taft, eWEEK

In a move to provide businesses with consistent tools for measuring aggregate risk in the financial world and to provide a more a real-time view of market exposure, the IBM Data Governance Council is seeking input from banks and financial institutions, corporations, vendors, and regulators to create a standards-based approach to risk reporting. The IBM Data Governance Council is also exploring the usefulness of XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language), a software language for describing business terms in financial reports, in risk reporting, said Steve Adler, chairman of the IBM Data Governance Council, in an interview with eWEEK. XBRL could be used to provide a nonproprietary way of reporting risk that could potentially be applied worldwide, Adler said. It is already widely used for financial reporting throughout Europe, Australia and Japan, and the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) has proposed its use among American firms in 2009. Adler noted that risk comes in many forms—from the financial exposure to credit, market and operational risk to the broader societal exposure to economic, pandemic and natural catastrophe risk. At the heart of the current economic downturn are the credit and liquidity problems that have stemmed from the inability of many financial firms to track or measure their risk positions. In all its guises, risk is difficult to track, even harder to measure and model, and almost impossible to completely avoid. Adler said in today's environment, organizations have inconsistent methods and vague language for disclosing operational, market and credit risk. And such inconsistencies make regulatory oversight extremely difficult and complex. The first step to enabling new transparency of risk and exposure in the financial services industry is semantic clarity—a precise method for consistently describing and reporting risk across all organizations.. The IBM Data Governance Council is a group of 50 global companies, including Abbott Labs, American Express, Bank of America, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Bank of Montreal, Bell Canada, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Discover Financial, Kasikornbank, MasterCard, Nordea Bank, Wachovia and the World Bank.

See also: XBRL references

Selected from the Cover Pages, by Robin Cover

Web Services Test Forum (WSTF) Addresses End User Interoperability Scenarios

On December 8, 2008, several industry partners announced public access to a Web Services Test Forum (WSTF) designed as an open community to improve the quality of the Web services standards through interoperability testing. The Forum will provide a customer-centric focus driven by end user testing scenarios. Through WSFT services, "members of the Web Service community can develop interop scenarios as well as test those scenarios against other Web Service implementations. WSTF also provides a common testbed of regression tests that the community can use during the developmen of their Web Service implementations." The Web Services Test Forum has a lightweight organizational structure: no Board, no centralized authority, no dues, few barriers to participation, and no allowance for IPR encumbrances. Individuals as well as corporate entities are welcome. Anyone with an interest in Web Services may join the group provided willingness to sign the WSTF Participation Agreement. Documents on the WSTF web site are freely editable by members (similar to a Wiki). Testing scenarios "can be created from scratch, imported from some other organization (modulo any IP restrictions), or forked from an existing WSTF scenario." In this manner, WSTF represents "an attempt to apply some of the tenets of open source to the process of interoperability testing." As explained in the announcement, WSTF makes it "easy to introduce new interoperability scenarios and approve work through simple majority governance... Interoperability is a critical component to the success of Web services standards. WSTF members plan to work closely with their customers to develop scenarios and fill a void by providing access to an open forum to test or validate applications and services. Members can test their product implementations against other members' in an open environment. Providing access to continuously available services minimizes the need for each vendor or customer to set up multi-vendor test environments in house. This testing is intended to help organizations deliver higher quality products and open standards specifications, simplifying integration and improving interoperability for customers in heterogeneous environments."


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