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Last modified: March 02, 2009
XML Daily Newslink. Monday, 02 March 2009

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

This issue of XML Daily Newslink is sponsored by:
IBM Corporation

Building Content Bridges
Robert J. Boeri, EContent Magazine

The problem with content bridges is the incompatibilities between the two systems. Once-hopeful acronyms litter the bridge on-ramps — e.g., ODMA, linking desktop applications with repositories; and AIIM's iECM, promising interoperable enterprise content management... The scope of the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) bridge is intentionally modest to ensure its success. Features common to all systems are supported. Folders, for example, are universal in all systems and, thus, CMIS supports folders. Every system supports versioning, and so does CMIS. Why would arch rival vendors develop the initial standard and then hand it over to OASIS? They wanted to assure the standard's success because each vendor was hearing similar customer complaints: These so-called enterprise repositories were, in fact, islands. That may have been acceptable a generation ago, but that's not so in today's heterogeneous world. And no vendor likes unhappy customers. Better to build a bridge than have customers see your product as a dead end. I asked EMC's David Choy, senior consultant, and Patricia Anderson, senior marketing manager, for some details. Choy said the principals decided to focus on the lowest common denominator ('CRUD') meaning ways to create, retrieve (or read), update, or delete documents. Choy also warned that as difficult as the initial draft of the standard was, taking almost two years to make, getting a final, approved standard through OASIS would probably take at least 18 more months. Product road maps from each vendor might take an additional year. In the meantime, EMC and others will make prototypes available for customers to experiment with. Still, Anderson says the end result will be worth the wait. She says that this standard, the first based on web services, would enable distributed environments such as franchises to share information outside their own organizational boundaries. Companies could even deploy workflows between repositories. Applications built for one system will work with all CMIS-compliant systems. For the first time ever, web-based, service- oriented applications could be developed once to connect multiple ECM systems from the same or different vendors. Systems could connect across intranets and even over the public internet. Day Software also supports CMIS. And given Day's careful adherence to standards, I wanted to get the company's take on this effort. Day's CTO David Nuescheler cautioned that current prototypes are for review only before the standard is finalized..."

See also: Craig Randall on CMIS Interoperability

Modular RELAX NG Schema of NETCONF RPC and Protocol Operations
Ladislav Lhotka (ed), IETF Internet Draft

A first draft specification has been released for "Modular RELAX NG Schema of NETCONF RPC and Protocol Operations," issued as an IETF Internet Draft. "Specification of the NETCONF protocol contains in its Appendix B a formal definition of the vocabulary of RPC and protocol operations expressed using the W3C XML Schema language. However, the NETCONF protocol vocabulary actually consists of two distinct parts -- one for the NETCONF client and the other for the NETCONF server—that can never appear together in the same NETCONF PDU. The overlap of these two parts is small and even if the same element, such as 'hello', is allowed in both, the content model of each version may differ. Moreover, the PDU contents in every particular case depend on the capabilities supported by the server and negotiated in the 'hello' messages. The all-encompassing approach of the NETCONF XSD schema cannot take these differences into account and the grammar is thus in many places too liberal. As a result, the XSD schema can hardly be used for serious validation of NETCONF PDUs. This report introduces a new modular schema for the same NETCONF protocol vocabulary expressed in RELAX NG, a simple but powerful schema language that became Part 2 of the international standard ISO/IEC 19757. RELAX NG has two official syntaxes, XML and compact, the latter, being designed primarily for human readers without special training, is considerably more suitable for inclusion in standardization documents such as RFCs than XML-based syntaxes. The goal of this work is twofold: (1) Demonstrate that RELAX NG is a sound alternative to XSD for the given purpose in that it is able to express the same (or even more detailed) grammar and data-typing rules as the existing NETCONF XSD schema and do it in a way that is considerably more human-readable. (2) Use the extensibility framework of RELAX NG for dividing the schema into smaller modules according to the logic of the NETCONF protocol. Such a decomposition will not only further aid readability and make the parts of the schema easier to maintain, but also allow for using the modules directly for NETCONF PDU validation. Section 2 summarizes the problems of the NETCONF XSD schema, Section 3 describes the structure and main design features of the modular RELAX NG schema, and Section 4 shows how to use the modules for effective validation of NETCONF PDUs in specific contexts. Appendix A presents the RELAX NG Schema Modules. The NETCONF XSD schema in Appendix B of "NETCONF Configuration Protocol" (RFC 4741), can serve well as a set of formalized guidelines for implementers of the NETCONF protocol, especially the RPC layer.

See also: DSDL Part 2 (RELAX-NG)

Analyzing the DMTF Incubator Process
William Vambenepe, Blog

Depending on how you choose to look at it, either the DMTF has streamlined the process of defining standards or it has created a rubberstamping machine. I am referring to the 'DMTF Standards Incubation Process'. It is recent, but not brand new (the DSP that defines it is dated April 6, 2007). I had heard about it but never really looked into it. Until this weekend, when I finally got motivated to investigate a bit. AFAIK this process has not yet produced any specification. As I understand it, the goal of this incubation process is to allow a group of like-minded companies to get together in the DMTF and produce an 'informational specification', which is typically a refinement of a vendor submission. The informational specification would then go through a normal DMTF working group but often in an expedited fashion, only allowing limited changes. That's not a guaranteed outcome, but it seems to be the 'normal' case as envisioned in this process. This overview should make it clear why this can be seen as a rubberstamping machine. [...] First let's realize that this happens anyway. Companies get together (often around an initial document created by a single leader) to create a specification and then look for a standard organization to ratify it with as few changes as possible.

Other than CIM, it seems that all recent DMTF efforts started out this way (WS-Management, CMDBf, OVF). This is how Microsoft (sometimes with IBM) built the whole WS-* stack. They even had a name for it (the 'workshop process') to try to make it sound more open than it was. I've been on the inside (SML, CMDBf, WSRF/WSRT) and outside (WS-Management and other WS-* specifications) of it and it's a pain whether you're inside or out. It's very opaque. Efforts may die and nobody ever knows (for example, does anyone know what's up with CML)? Even when those inside want to get feedback and share their work they have to deal with a tangle of legal agreements that make it unnecessarily hard for everyone. In addition, all the work and discussions that go into the submitted specification usually get lost as the work transitions to a standards body (e.g. no email archive and unclear IP/confidentiality rules in re-using them). And the fact that these efforts are private does not prevent companies from demanding guarantees that their submissions won't be changed too much. For example, the WS-Management working group had an explicit goal in its charter to maintain compatibility with the submission and the same debate was played over and over again in drafting the charters of several OASIS and W3C groups. Companies play one standard organization against another if necessary to get this guarantee... Everyone complains about 'design by committee' and how inconsistent and bloated specifications become when everyone is listened to and made to feel included. The specifications end up with too many options (a killer of interoperability) and no guiding vision. A more constrained set of authors usually produce a simpler and more consistent specification. Has anyone ever seen a standard that is shorter than the submission that started it? At the end, it comes down to what a standard should be. If you think a standard should capture the knowledge of most experts in the industry and give an equal voice to all organizations, then this is a step in the wrong direction. If, on the other hand, your position is that the big guys will effectively set standards anyway so it might as well be done in a way that is fast, relatively transparent and consistent with their implementation, then you'll applaud this initiative.

Social Mashups with Groovy: Mixing Groovy, Twitter, Google, and Ajax
Andrew Glover, IBM developerWorks

Social networking over the Web is a huge trend these days. The skyrocketing popularity of applications like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn attest to the fundamental human urge to connect with like-minded people. Something else is also all the rage these days: open application interfaces. Google and Twitter, for example, are wide open to the eyes and innovations of developers the world over. Both platforms offer APIs for querying, and ultimately integrating your applications with, virtually whatever you can dream up. Mashups are the quintessential Web 2.0 application; they literally combine seemingly unrelated applications into a single functioning entity that seamlessly hides the turning gears behind the scenes that make it all work. The open APIs offered by entities vying to belong to the mashup community often rely on RESTful principles, which makes building a mashup easier than you might think. One popular mashup candidate these days is Google Maps. Google Maps is essentially a JavaScript library that lets you add the notion of where to an application. By giving Google Maps some location information (in the form of addresses or coordinates), you can build a map that signifies that location visually. If you've ever used Google's online mapping application (for instance to get driving directions), then you've already seen Google Maps in action. In this article, you learn how to build a social network with Google Maps, Twitter, Groovy, and Ajax. By combining a Google Map with location information that Twitter exposes, you can create a mashup that allows people to view Twitter in light of a particular location. The simple application this article builds lets users view a map of their Twitter friends — a geo-view of their network.

XBRL and Document Management: The Perfect Storm
Diane Mueller, O'Reilly Technical

How can you turn the U.S. SEC eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) mandate's requirements into an opportunity when making process improvements to comply? Implement an XBRL-enhanced document management strategy as part of your internal corporate filing workflow which will both boost compliance and save money. Document management is based on applying the principles of structured content—documents that have been chunked into meaningful component parts and tagged in a systematic fashion. In the case of the corporate financial reporting process, the structure now being applied to financial content is XBRL, the financial XML standard that promises to transform, and perhaps revolutionize, how companies create and use their financial information to meet business objectives. With the SEC mandating the use of XBRL, now is the perfect time to take advantage of these two converging industry best practices. Its standardized structure makes the application of document management systems possible for the corporate accounting sector, whereas in the past, the lack of structure had hindered the adoption of document management strategies in this domain... The key to success is automation —the manual 'tagging' process must become an automated process that is integrated with the existing corporate reporting workflows. The sources for the filing's content can be connected directly to the corporate report generation workflow. Backend accounting and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems now let users export primary financial statements to XBRL. Also, the commentary—management's notes and discussions or footnotes—are easily stored in content management systems that now support the storage and retrieval of XBRL content. If your current accounting systems do not have an XBRL export function, there are many fully-automated XML mapping tools on the market today that can easily plug-in and create the required XBRL content. Document management systems connect all these sources of content for filing creation into a secure collaborative workflow.

Industry Alliance Aims to Build the Mobile Internet
Staff, DDJ

The Cognitive Networking Alliance (CogNeA) is an industry alliance that's been formed to promote a worldwide cognitive radio (CR) standard that would allow new levels of performance in portable devices such as cell phones and computers. Backed by ETRI, GEDC, HP, Motorola, Philips, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Texas Instruments, and the Georgia Electronic Design Center, among others, the CR standard would utilize the ultra-high-frequency (UHF) band—the so-called "white-space" -- currently used for television broadcasting. Use of this white space for wireless applications could enable the broad bandwidth demanded by wireless video, while also providing extended range, improved coverage and superior penetration through walls. The standard will be based on Cognitive Radio technology operating over TV White Spaces , and is being defined in compliance with regulatory rules that have been announced by the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) action dated November 4, 2008, by Second Report and Order (FCC 08-260). The Alliance intends to bring the standard to an international status in collaboration with an existing Standards Definition Organization.


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