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XForms and XML-Enabled Clients Gain Traction with XQuery Databases
Kurt Cagle, XML.com
XForms has now become the focus of not just one but several different implementations. Orbeon has continued to establish its position as the dominant player in the nascent industry, though XForms products by IBM (Lotus Forms, formerly the rather unwieldy IBM Workplace Forms), the XForms extension for Mozilla Firefox, the Server/AJAX based Chiba XForms, FormsPlayer, Picoforms and the Ubiquity project, all attest to how full (and competitive) this field has become. Additionally: tools such as xFy. There are two factors that have long held XForms in check. The first is that XForms is not a complete solution to anything -- it depends upon having an XML data server that can also persist or process the XML sent to it. Without that, XForms is simply a very complicated toy language... I do not find it at all coincidental that as XQuery has emerged to provide a data abstraction layer for document-centric content, XML databases have also gained traction, and 2008 provided a good example of that. MarkLogic released their MarkLogic 4.0 XML Server, bringing their XQuery implementations to contemporary standards; The eXist project released their 1.2 branch this year as well, giving a significant boost to the performance of the product and expanding its native library significantly. IBM released updates to their widely used IBM DB2 PureXML Server to bring it in line with current XQuery specifications, and has significantly stepped up their marketing efforts there. Oracle's acquisition of Sleepycat in late 2006 resurfaced in 2008 as Oracle Berkeley DB XML while EMC/Document acquired XML database company X-Hive to incorporate into its offering as the EMC's X-Hive/DB8 Server... XML Databases drive XForms. That has been demonstrated over and over again in this industry—indeed, much of the XRX patterns described earlier in this series are a direct result of this realization. Once you have an XML database in place, the desire to work with the content via some type of forms interface becomes very compelling, especially for mixed data/ document structures. My expectations for XForms in 2009 are consequently quite high. I think that by the time the year is out, every XML database will be paired with either an open source XForms component or will have produced an embedded XForms layer of their own, and most of these will be running at least a subset of XForms 1.1. Because many of these are designed to work in an AJAX layer on top of existing browsers, it also short circuits the other major block to XForms adoption - Microsoft's lack of interest in the technology. I think another company to watch this year in that space is JustSystems with their xFy product, though I personally think that they should make the investment and move to a full XForms compliant system... as IBM found with their PureEdge solution, the market seems to be moving away from pure proprietary languages, even XML languages, and the benefits of maintaining an XForms layer will likely outweigh the development costs.
See also: XML and Forms
Fujitsu Research Institute Supports GRC Extensible Markup Language
Staff, Fujitsu Announcement
The Fujitsu Research Institute, a global leader in enterprise technology services and information management standards, announced that it "has joined The Open Compliance & Ethics Group's growing International Technology Council to help improve Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) information management in global enterprises. The inclusion of Fujitsu Research Institute's expertise in Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) for internal controls and risk management will help the Technology Council's rapid development of GRC Extensible Markup Language (XML) information standards." The OCEG Technology Council was formed to help address the strategic, operational and technical issues that professionals face when applying Information Technology (IT) to governance, risk, compliance (GRC) and ethics management. OCEG's technology standards program focuses on modeling, mapping and testing the entities in a GRC information management backbone (including incidents, objectives, events, risks, controls, tests, and messages) that are exchanged between IT systems and applications using open XML/XBRL schema. The GRC-XML TM Program Goals are to publish and popularize GRC-XML schema related to risk and compliance processes, corporate transparency and policy-based management in the XBRL standard. Its members participate in the working groups necessary to create and publish the related GRC taxonomy. OCEG manages the GRC-XML Provisional Jurisdiction of XBRL International, where XBRL International (XII) reviews, acknowledges and publishes OCEG GRC-XML work group scripts, schema and related documents in the XII domain. Published GRC-XML documents are managed by OCEG and available as an open standard for use without the payment of a licensing fee. GRC-XML taxonomy improves GRC process efficiency by enhancing the information technology backbone with standardized messaging to reduce the cost of related software integration and implementation...
See also: the OCEG Technology Council Programs
Analyze Financial Reporting Using XBRL
Uche Ogbuji, IBM developerWorks
As the world turns its eyes to Wall Street, one of the hot topics is how to increase the transparency of descriptions of business activity and financial results. The financial sector and the SEC have long approached this problem with XBRL, an XML language for business reports. XBRL uses a variety of XML technologies, including XLink to provide rich detail for financial information... You can find a treasure trove of information on commerce activity and trends in formal business reports, and the financial services industry moved rapidly to take advantage of XML to standardize the format for exchanging such financial information in the form of Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). XBRL is an open, royalty-free standard for expressing business reports and related semantics, with a mature current version (2.1, dating from April, 2005), but under the constant custodianship of XBRL International, Inc. (XII), an international non-profit consortium of about 450 major companies, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Certainly XBRL is gaining traction through sheer force of law. As of December, 2008, the SEC requires the largest companies to file financial statements, particularly annual 10-K and quarterly 10-Q financial reports using XBRL. By the end of 2009 this mandate will spread to most Fortune 1500 companies, and by the end of 2010 it will cover all public companies. Typical usage of XBRL has several aspects. XBRL documents rise on a foundation of semantics organized into taxonomies and other metadata, using XLink. These taxonomies are the mechanism for semantic transparency in XBRL, referencing industry and global financial reporting standards, including one maintained by XII itself—Global Ledger Framework. The reports are instance documents incorporating these semantics, conveying financial information (business facts in XBRL parlance) in a carefully controlled context. The context is an unambiguous reference to, for example, the company or individual to whom a business fact pertains, relevant units of measure, dates and times, any related facts, references to definitions in taxonomies, and any other metadata that makes clear the nuances of the facts reported in an XBRL instance.... This article shows how to interpret and analyze financial report information in XBRL, using an actual U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report as an example.
See also: XBRL references
SOA is Dead; Long Live Services
Anne Thomas Manes, Blog
Obituary: SOA. "SOA met its demise on January 1, 2009, when it was wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession. SOA is survived by its offspring: mashups, BPM, SaaS, Cloud Computing, and all other architectural approaches that depend on 'services'. Once thought to be the savior of IT, SOA instead turned into a great failed experiment —at least for most organizations. SOA was supposed to reduce costs and increase agility on a massive scale. Except in rare situations, SOA has failed to deliver its promised benefits. After investing millions, IT systems are no better than before. In many organizations, things are worse: costs are higher, projects take longer, and systems are more fragile than ever. The people holding the purse strings have had enough. With the tight budgets of 2009, most organizations have cut funding for their SOA initiatives. It's time to accept reality. SOA fatigue has turned into SOA disillusionment. Business people no longer believe that SOA will deliver spectacular benefits. 'SOA' has become a bad word. It must be removed from our vocabulary. The demise of SOA is tragic for the IT industry. Organizations desperately need to make architectural improvements to their application portfolios. Service-orientation is a prerequisite for rapid integration of data and business processes; it enables situational development models, such as mashups; and it's the foundational architecture for SaaS and cloud computing... Successful SOA (i.e., application re-architecture) requires disruption to the status quo. SOA is not simply a matter of deploying new technology and building service interfaces to existing applications; it requires redesign of the application portfolio. And it requires a massive shift in the way IT operates. The small select group of organizations that has seen spectacular gains from SOA did so by treating it as an agent of transformation. In each of these success stories, SOA was just one aspect of the transformation effort. And here's the secret to success: SOA needs to be part of something bigger..." [Note the responses in comments following the Blog article.]
Digital Signature Methods for Location Dependability
Martin Thomson and James Winterbottom (eds), IETF Internet Draft
Members of the IETF Geographic Location/Privacy (GEOPRIV) Working Group have published an Internet Draft on "Digital Signature Methods for Location Dependability." A digital signature provides data integrity and authentication of the source of information. This document describes how XML-Signature (RFC 3275) can be applied to a Presence Information Data Format - Location Object (PIDF-LO) as defined in RFC 4119. It also describes the benefits of signing and how signing can be practically applied. Section 12 of the specification provides the URN Sub-Namespace Registration and XML Schema Registrations. Location information about a particular person or device is critical to a number of applications. The integrity of this information—whether or not it can be relied upon for correctness—is also important to the user of the data. This is especially important if the recipient of location information expends resources based on the information. The quitessential example of an application where the veracity of location information is critical is emergency calling. Location information is used both by routing functions to determine the correct Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) and by the selected PSAP to determine where to send personnel. If location information were faked, the call could be directed to the wrong PSAP, or personnel could be directed to an incorrect location. In either case, an attacker wastes PSAP resources and risks delaying their life-critical interventions for other legitimate emergency callers. This document details several cryptographic methods that limit the scope of attacks on location recipients based on faked or stolen location information. Methods for applying digital signatures are described so that a location recipient can identify the source of the location information, either Location Information Server (LIS) or Target. Identifying the source allows the location recipient to make a judgement on whether or not to trust the content of the location information.
W3C Publishes Web IDL Working Draft
Cameron McCormack (ed), W3C Technical Report
Members of the W3C Web Applications Working Group have published the Working Draft for "Web IDL" as part of the Rich Web Client Activity. The specification defines an interface definition language, Web IDL, that can be used to describe interfaces that are intended to be implemented in web browsers. Web IDL is an IDL variant with a number of features that allow the behavior of common script objects in the web platform to be specified more readily. How interfaces described with Web IDL correspond to constructs within ECMAScript and Java execution environments is also detailed. Web IDL is intended to specify in detail the interface definition language used by W3C specifications to define interfaces, and to provide precise conformance requirements for ECMAScript and Java bindings of such interfaces. It is expected that this document acts as a guide to implementors of already-published specifications, and that newly published specifications reference this document to ensure conforming implementations of interfaces are interoperable... Technical reports published by the W3C that include programming language interfaces have typically been described using the Object Management Group's Interface Definition Language (IDL). The IDL provides a means to describe these interfaces in a language independent manner. Usually, additional language binding appendices are included in such documents which detail how the interfaces described with the IDL correspond to constructs in the given language. However, the bindings in these specifications for the language most commonly used on the web, ECMAScript, are consistently specified with low enough precision as to result in interoperability issues. In addition, each specification must describe the same basic information, such as DOM interfaces described in IDL corresponding to properties on the ECMAScript global object, or the unsigned long IDL type mapping to the Number type in ECMAScript. This specification defines an IDL language that is a syntactic subset of OMG IDL version 3.0 (with some small deviations) for use by specifications that define interfaces. A number of extensions are given to the IDL to support common functionality that previously must have been written in prose. In addition, precise language bindings for ECMAScript Third Edition and Java 5 are given.
See also: the W3C Rich Web Clients Activity
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