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Last modified: January 14, 2009
XML Daily Newslink. Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A Cover Pages Publication
Provided by OASIS and Sponsor Members
Edited by Robin Cover

This issue of XML Daily Newslink is sponsored by:

SIOC: Content Exchange and Semantic Interoperability Between Social Networks
John Breslin, Uldis Bojars, Alexandre Passant (et al.), W3C Workshop Paper

While social media services have introduced new trends and practices regarding how people publish and share data on the Web, their popularity has also led to various issues, such as interoperability of social networks and exchange of social media contributions (SMC) between applications. Due to the heterogenous nature of models for SMC (generally depending on the provider), finding, interlinking and querying such data is a complex issue. On the other hand, Semantic Web technologies provide standards and models to build a Web of Data, with unified models to represent interlinked data from different sources. Hence, our vision is that combining Semantic Web technologies and social media paradigms will lead to 'Social Semantic Information Spaces', where information is socially created and maintained as well as being interlinked and machine-understandable, leading to new ways to discover information on the Web. SIOC (Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities) aims to achieve this goal, by providing a complete framework for modeling activities and SMCs in online communities using Semantic Web technologies and standards. Having being accepted as a W3C Member Submission in June 2007, used in tens of applications from Web 2.0 to Life Sciences, and more recently being recommended for use in Yahoo! SearchMonkey-based applications, SIOC has become an inevitable core element of the Social Semantic Web... This paper provides an overview of the SIOC project as a means for exchanging content between semantically-interoperable social spaces, and we have described its application in some use cases of note, including the domains of Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0, life sciences and mobile phones. Even when describing the life sciences use case, we see that social data is everywhere. Thus, we expect that SIOC and its principles can be applied and used in many situations and environments, enabling large scale interoperability between services and applications, wherever the data comes from but also independent of whatever device was used to create it. In general, we believe there is great potential for future applications exploiting SIOC, and would propose that this be a focus for any upcoming workgroup or interest group dedicated to Social Network or Social Web interoperability within the W3C.

See also: SIOC in the OASIS ICOM TC draft charter

Integrating Social Networks and Sensor Networks
DERI and University of Ireland Department of Electronic Engineering, W3C Workshop Paper

Sensors have begun to infiltrate people's everyday lives. They can provide information about a car's condition, can enable smart buildings, and are being used in various mobile applications, to name a few. Generally, sensors provide information about various aspects of the real world. Online social networks, another emerging trend over the past six or seven years, can provide insights into the communication links and patterns between people. They have enabled novel developments in communications as well as transforming the Web from a technical infrastructure to a social platform... In this position paper, we highlight some of the interesting research areas where sensors and social networks can fruitfully interface, from sensors providing contextual information in context-aware and personalized social applications, to using social networks as "storage infrastructures" for sensor information... [Example] Social sensing: A use case could be to find a calm place based on "noise logs" recorded by one's social network. In order to find a calm place for a business meeting or in a work environment, a user could query his or her social network to find such information. This would include both sensor information, for example, obtained as in the NoiseTube experiment where a small application provides noise level readings from standard mobile phones, as well as ratings provided by users. Smart phones can be leveraged in order to identify these suitable spaces. Each phone within a given area could periodically have its microphone polled to get an estimation of how noisy a particular location is. This data can be augmented by scanning for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices nearby to provide an approximation for how calm a particular location is. Once again, the location of the device can be gathered via GPS if available or via Wi-Fi positioning techniques. In the ideal case where microphone, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and location data is available from all smart phones within a building then a simple query can be sent to the smart phones in order to find an appropriate "calm place". However, in situations where there is information missing we can treat people as sensors and issue a query to them. For instance if we know that John is in a quiet place but we don't have location details for him, we can send him an SMS to retrieve his location... From a practical point of view, as both Social Networks and Sensors information can be modeled using Semantic Web technologies, they can be efficiently connected in an interoperable and straightforward way... For instance, the ConServ system developed in DERI benefits from Semantic Web technologies to integrate existing data sources, such as geographic information from Geonames, FOAF and iCal with sensors data. ConServ allows users to provide ubiquitous applications and context-aware web-services controlled access to their context data. ConServ can be leveraged to provide a service which, for instance, can inform someone about the presence (or not) of a colleague in a building a few minutes before a meeting, so that it can be postponed if the colleague is still far away. By using RDF modeling, that application could be extended to take into account the Social Networking aspects we identified in the two use cases. The only requirement is the use of RDF to model those activities as stated before, which can easily be done thanks to the numerous exporters available for existing applications..." [From the Two-Day "Workshop on the Future of Social Networking," organized by W3C.]

See also: the collection of Workshop papers

OMG Releases Draft of SoaML
Dilip Krishnan, InfoQueue

OMG has released a draft of SoaML, a specification for the UML Profile and Metamodel for Services. SoaML (Modeling Language) is a standard extension to UML 2 that is meant to facilitate services modeling. The document is: "Service oriented architecture Modeling Language (SoaML): Specification for the UML Profile and Metamodel for Services (UPMS)," at 194 pages. "SoaML is a submission in response to UPMS (UML Profile and Metamodel for Service)s RFP and works within the framework of OASIS SOA Reference Model. SoaML depends on Model Driven Architecture (MDA1) to help map business and systems architectures, the design of the enterprise, to implementation technologies that support SOA, like web services and CORBA. The focus however is primarily on business and architecture. 'SoaML enables business oriented and systems oriented services architectures to mutually and collaboratively support the enterprise mission'..." From the document 'Overview': "The goals of SoaML are to support the activities of service modeling and design and to fit into an overall model-driven development approach. Of course, there are many ways to approach the problems of service design. Should it be taken from the perspective of a service consumer who requests that a service be built? Should it be taken from the perspective of a service provider that advertises a service to those who are interested and qualified to use it? Or, should it be taken from the perspective of a system design that describes how consumers and providers will interact to achieve overall objectives? Rather than presume any particular method, the profile and metamodel accommodate all of these different perspectives in a consistent and cohesive approach to describing consumers requirements, providers offerings and the interaction and agreements between them. The SoaML profile supports the range of modeling requirements for service-oriented architectures, including the specification of systems of services, the specification of individual service interfaces, and the specification of service implementations. This is done in such a way as to support the automatic generation of derived artifacts following an MDA based approach. Use of the profile is illustrated with a complete example... The SoaML metamodel is based on the UML 2.0 metamodel L2 and provides minimal extensions to UML, only where absolutely necessary to accomplish the goals and requirements of service modeling. The specification takes advantage of the package merge feature of UML 2.0 to merge the extensions into UML. The profile provides a UML specific version of the metamodel that can be incorporated into standard UML modeling tools..."

See also: the OMG specification

SOA is Dead? It's About Time!
Kurt Cagle, O'Reilly Technical

The article by Anne Thomas Manes (Research Director with the Burton Group) continues to attract responses from supporters and detractors. From Kurt Cagle: "Anne has the chops to talk on the subject—beyond her respectable career as an SOA Analyst for the Burton Group, she was also a former CTO of Systinet, an SOA governance company that eventually was bought up by Hewlett Packard, and was one of the early architects of the WS-* architecture ... I had the privilege of working with Ms. Manes last year, and overall, I don't think we're that far apart philosophically when it comes to SOA. I've had a number of problems with the technology, from the fact that it seemed to be less technology and more marketing term for a number of fairly distinct things, to the fact that distributed technologies are, by their very nature, distributed. The SOA model as I'd seen it painted all too often seemed to be trying hard to build centralized systems that were nonetheless distributed. Distributed programming is very different from centralized systems, and trying to apply one model to the other will get you into trouble quickly. Perhaps my biggest reservation about SOA had to be the fact that, at the end of the day, it was still an RPC model that concentrated primarily on calling APIs that differed from one provider to the next. The result of this thinking is the sea of APIs, where there are now tens of thousands of APIs, each of which doing things a little (or in some cases, a lot) differently from one another, with very little cohesion, and with little thought to the semantic complexity that comes when you have that many microlanguages all competing for programmer attention... Purists may argue that over time the SOA model (especially the SOAP/WSDL model) had been moving towards a more messaging-oriented architecture, but I'd counter that all that a messaging queue does is to decouple the receipt of the message from the response—if the message processor invokes a service, it is still an RPC, especially when transactions are involved. This is one of the reasons that I think that resource oriented services (RESTful services) are beginning to gain real traction even as the big-box SOA projects are falling to the accountant's axe. The publish/subscribe model in which what you're publishing are not blogs but data documents (think XBRL or HL7) performs the same type of decoupling that message-oriented SOA did, but completely abstracts the intent from the process of communication..."

Facebook Opens Up Its Markup Language (Sort Of)
Matt Asay, CNET

Facebook on announced that it has made the Facebook Markup Language extensible, enabling developers outside of Facebook to create custom tags. For example, the iLike application developers have provided an iLike tag that shows favorite songs and playlists... [However], to be highly reusable and, hence, more useful, Facebook should consider exposing its markup code to developers so it can be "more easily altered for reuse in different ways by different apps... This is one of the cardinal virtues of open source: code reuse. By allowing development of custom tags, Facebook has taken a step toward openness, but not the one that developers require to be efficient with their code. Mike Vernal, a member of Facebook's Platform Engineering Team, tells Web 2.0 Journal that "our goal with Platform has been to allow applications anywhere to become more social by leveraging the power of Facebook," but this becomes doubly difficult if the platform is closed... From the blog by Yariv Sadan: "When we released Facebook Platform in 2007 to our developer community, our goal was to enable you to build great social applications that are integrated with Facebook. FBML was one Platform component that provided a simple and powerful way to add social context to your Facebook applications. FBML also lowered the amount of effort involved in building applications by providing useful tags and user interface components that addressed the needs of many developers. Initially, FBML included only tags that Facebook created. Today, we're excited to announce a new feature called custom tags. With custom tags, any developer can create new FBML tags. Developers can use these tags in their own applications, or they can share their custom tags with the entire Facebook developer community as pre-built FBML components... Another powerful benefit of custom tags is that you can use them to improve your application's performance. Much like how one FBML tag is a shorthand way to include a lot of markup (think of fb:comments, for example), one custom tag can replace a lot of FBML and HTML content inline. Using custom tags in this way lowers the communication overhead between Facebook and your application's servers. One custom tag can render a larger amount of content. Instead of sending the full FBML fragment with every request, you can replace it with a custom tag that Facebook will expand when Facebook parses the page. We created a custom tags directory on the Developer wiki where you can find documentation on public (shared) tags created by other developers..."

See also: Yariv Sadan's blog 'Extending FBML with Custom Tags'


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