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Last modified: April 28, 2009
XML Daily Newslink. Tuesday, 28 April 2009

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

This issue of XML Daily Newslink is sponsored by:

Uncertainty Markup Language and WCS Extension for netCDF Weather Data
Staff, OGC Announcement

The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC) has announced the release of two Discussion Papers for review. "Uncertainty Markup Language (UnCertML)" defines an XML encoding for the transport and storage of information about uncertain quantities, with emphasis on quantitative representations based on probability theory. Most data contains uncertainty, arising from sources which include measurement error, observation operator error, processing/modelling errors, or corruption. Processing this uncertain data (typically through models, which can introduce their own errors), propagates the uncertainty, often unpredictably. The ability to optimally utilise data requires a description of its uncertainty which is as complete and detailed as possible, and in the geospatial context, this characterisation and quantification is particularly crucial when data is used for spatial decision making. This document describes the XML schema syntax and conventions that allow an interoperable description of uncertain data, which we define to be random quantities, in a variety of ways including: (1) probability distributions including both uni- and multi-variate distributions and mixture models; (2) statistics, including means, (co-)variances, standard deviations and quantiles; models; (3) realisations or sampled data.

The second OpenGIS Discussion Paper is "Web Coverage Service (WCS) 1.1 Extension for CF-netCDF 3.0 Encoding". The Web Coverage Service (WCS) supports electronic retrieval of geospatial data as "coverages" —t hat is, digital geospatial information representing space-varying phenomena. A WCS provides client access to potentially detailed and rich sets of geospatial information in forms that are useful for client-side rendering, multi-valued coverages, and input into scientific models and other clients. The WCS is currently limited to quadrilateral grid coverages, providing information at the grid points, usually with interpolation between these grid points. This extension of the WCS standard specifies an Information Community data model with the related encoding that may optionally be implemented by WCS servers. This extension specification allows clients to evaluate, request and use data encoded in CF-netCDF3 format from a WCS server. NetCDF is a widely-used set of interfaces for array-oriented data access and a freely-distributed collection of data access libraries for C, Fortran, C++, Java, and other languages. This extension Standard specifies a CF-netCDF3 data model with the related binary and XML-based encoding formats in which data may be requested by a WCS client and provided by a WCS server. This extension Standard is an optional implementation by servers. The format is netCDF conforming to the Climate and Forecast (CF) conventions (CF-netCDF3). This standard specifies the CF-netCDF data model mapping onto the WCS data model...

See also: the Geography Markup Language (GML)

Working with ODF in Word 2007 SP2
Doug Mahugh, Office Interoperability Blog

"For those of us on the Office Interoperability team, as well as our colleagues throughout Office, today is a big day. We've released SP2 (Service Pack 2 for Office 2007), which includes a bunch of updated features. Gray Knowlton has a roundup of what's new in SP2, but I think the feature of most interest to readers here is probably the built-support for ODF 1.1. I first mentioned our plans for ODF support in a blog post last year, and I've also blogged in the past about the guiding principles that we followed in our ODF implementation. Our decision to support ODF is just one aspect of Office's broad commitment to choice and interoperability, as covered by Tom Robertson on the Microsoft on the Issues blog... ["Following Through on Our Commitment to Interoperability" (Tom Robertson, Microsoft Associate General Counsel)]

For today's post, I thought I'd put together a hands-on example of a typical user experience when working with ODF and Office 2007 SP2. I'm going to focus on a typical document creation and editing scenario in Word. Specifically, I'll go through these steps: (1) Create a typical document in Word 2007 SP2, and save it as ODF; (2) Open that document in OpenOffice 3.0; (3) Back in Word, add some fancy styling and other typical enhancements to the document, then save the fancier version in ODF; (4) Open that fancier version in OpenOffice... As you can see [in the demonstration], the document looks essentially the same in both applications. The page break is the only obvious difference—it occurs at a different point in the document due to differences between the default line-spacing values used in Word and OpenOffice. Other than that detail, the document looks the same in both applications, with the same fonts, formatting, headings and content. The line-spacing variation is something you can see in other ODT documents and other ODF implementations as well. For example, if you open the latest draft of the ODF 1.2 specification (OpenDocument-v1.2-cd01-rev06.odt) in IBM Lotus Symphony 1.2.0, it is 931 pages long, but if you open the same document in OpenOffice Writer 3.0.1, it's 875 pages long. These types of variations demonstrate a fundamental difference between a fixed-layout format (such as PDF or XPS) and a flow-oriented layout like ODF or Open XML. Flow-oriented formats work well for dynamic editing activities, whereas fixed-layout formats rigidly pin down the layout of a document so that it will be rendered exactly the same on different devices. For these reasons, most people prefer to use a flow-oriented format during document authoring and editing, and a fixed-layout format for published documents that are no longer being edited... This demonstration is just a simple example, for those who are curious about how the new built-in ODF support works in Office. You can find more detailed information about SP2's support for ODF 1.1, including which features are supported by Word, Excel, and PowerPoint [online]..."

See also: Stephen Peront's blog

Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 Revision 1 (CSS 2.1) Specification
Bert Bos, Tantek Çelik, Ian Hickson, Håkon Wium Lie (eds), W3C Technical Report

W3C's Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Working Group updated the Candidate Recommendation of Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 Revision 1 (CSS 2.1) Specification. CSS 2.1 is a style sheet language that allows authors and users to attach style (e.g., fonts and spacing) to structured documents (e.g., HTML documents and XML applications). CSS 2.1 corrects a few errors in CSS2 (the most important being a new definition of the height/width of absolutely positioned elements, more influence for HTML's "style" attribute and a new calculation of the 'clip' property), and adds a few highly requested features which have already been widely implemented. But most of all CSS 2.1 represents a "snapshot" of CSS usage: it consists of all CSS features that are implemented interoperably. This draft incorporates errata resulting from implementation experience since the previous publication... CSS 2.1 builds on CSS2 which builds on CSS1. It supports media-specific style sheets so that authors may tailor the presentation of their documents to visual browsers, aural devices, printers, braille devices, handheld devices, etc. It also supports content positioning, table layout, features for internationalization and some properties related to user interface.

See also: the W3C CSS Working Group

Mapping YANG to Document Schema Definition Languages and Validating NETCONF Content
Ladislav Lhotka, Rohan Mahy, Sharon Chisholm (eds), IETF Internet Draft

Members of the IETF NETCONF Data Modeling Language (NETMOD) Working Group have released an updated version of the specification "Mapping YANG to Document Schema Definition Languages and Validating NETCONF Content." The NETCONF base specification defines protocol bindings and an XML container syntax for configuration and management operations, but does not include a modeling language or accompanying rules for how to model configuration and status information (in XML syntax) carried by NETCONF... The NETCONF community concluded that a data modeling framework is needed to support ongoing development of IETF and vendor- defined management information modules. The NETMOD Working Group was chartered to address this problem, by defining a new human-friendly modeling language based on SMIng and called YANG. Since NETCONF uses XML for encoding its protocol data units (PDU), it is natural to express the constraints on NETCONF content using standard XML schema languages. For this purpose, the NETMOD WG selected the Document Schema Definition Languages (DSDL) that is being standardized as ISO/IEC 19757. The DSDL framework comprises a set of XML schema languages that address grammar rules, semantic constraints and other data modeling aspects but also, and more importantly, do it in a coordinated and consistent way. While it is true that some DSDL parts have not been standardized yet and are still work in progress, the three parts that the YANG-to-DSDL mapping relies upon (RELAX NG, Schematron and DSRL) already have the status of an ISO/IEC International Standard and are supported in a number of software tools. This document contains the specification of a mapping that translates YANG data models to XML schemas utilizing a subset of the DSDL schema languages. The mapping procedure is divided into two steps: In the first step, the structure of the data tree, RPC signatures and notifications is expressed as a single RELAX NG grammar with simple annotations representing additional data model information (metadata, documentation, semantic constraints, default values etc.). The second step then generates a coordinated set of DSDL schemas that can validate specific XML documents such as client requests, server responses or notifications, perhaps also taking into account additional context such as active capabilities.

See also: the IETF NETCONF Data Modeling Language WG Status Pages

KMIP 32-bit Binary Alignment Proposal
Matthew Ball, Contribution to the OASIS KMIP Technical Committee

This document describes a proposed change to the KMIP binary encoding such that each part is aligned to a 4-byte boundary. The Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP), contributed to OASIS on April 24, 2009, "establishes a single, comprehensive protocol for communication between enterprise key management servers and cryptographic clients. By defining a protocol that can be used by any cryptographic client, ranging from a simple automated electric meter to very complex disk-arrays, KMIP enables enterprise key management servers to communicate via a single protocol to all cryptographic clients supporting that protocol." This KMIP 32-bit Binary Alignment Proposal document (Version 1) is a proposal against KMIP v0.98 to change the alignment of the binary encoding to fall on 32-bit boundaries, optimizing the layout for hard-aligned processors, such as the ARM. Introduction: "The binary encoding as defined in the 0.98 version of the KMIP draft does not maintain alignment to 4-byte boundaries within the message structure. This causes problems on hard-aligned processors, such as the ARM, that are not able to easily access memory on addresses that are not aligned to 4 bytes. When unaligned memory contents are requested, either the compiler has to add extra instructions to perform two aligned memory accesses and reassemble the data, or the processor has to take a 'trap' (i.e., an interrupt generated on unaligned memory accesses) to correctly assemble the memory contents. Either of these options results in reduced performance."

[Version 1] Details: (1) Change the alignment of the KMIP binary encoding such that each part is aligned to a 4-byte boundary. This is done by: [a] Change the size of the Item Type field from one to four bytes. [b] Require that all Item Value fields be padded with zero, one, two, or three bytes of the value 00 such that the length of the Value field is a multiple of 4 bytes. The Item Length still contains the correct, unpadded length of the Item. (2) Change the length of the Item Value for Binary types to be 4 bytes (instead of 1 byte), with hex values 00000000 for false and 00000001 for true. (3) Change the format of the Big Integer Item Type to require that the Item Value be padded with sign-extended bytes on the left (i.e., most significant bytes) such that the total length is a multiple of 4 bytes..."

See also: Stan S. Feather's proposal 'KMIP Key Namingfor Removable Media Interchange'

W3C Publishes Eight Proposed Recommendations for XSLT, XPath, XQuery
Michael Kay, Scott Boag, (et al., eds), W3C Technical Reports

W3C announced that the XSL Working Group and XML Query Working Group have published eight Proposed Edited Recommendations for Second Editions of: "XSL Transformations (XSLT)," "XQuery 1.0: An XML Query Language," "XML Syntax for XQuery 1.0 (XQueryX)", and "XML Path Language (XPath) 2.0," —together with their supporting documents: "XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Data Model (XDM)", "XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Formal Semantics," "XSLT 2.0 and XQuery 1.0 Serialization", and "XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Functions and Operators." These second edition specifications, if approved, will add the 'generate-id' function from XSLT to XPath and XQuery, and will also incorporate the outstanding errata, including a number of clarifications that may affect implementations. Enhanced test suites are being augmented and will be published shortly. Public feedback on these specifications is invited through May 31, 2009.

See also: XSLT 2.0 Second Edition

OASIS Announces Public Review of ebXML-Messaging Profiles
Staff, OASIS Announcement

Members of the OASIS ebXML Messaging Services Technical Committee have released two approved Committee Draft specifications for public comment. The public review period ends June 24, 2009. "AS4 Profile of ebMS V3 Version 1.0," edited by Jacques Durand (Fujitsu Computer Systems) defines some conformance profiles that support specific messaging styles or context of use. Introduction: "The AS4 profile of the ebMS V3 OASIS standard is intended to achieve the same functionality as AS2, while leveraging the features of the recent ebMS V3 standard. The main features of interest are compatibility with Web services standards, message pulling capability, and a built-in Receipt mechanism . Profiling ebMS V3 means: defining of a subset of ebMS V3 options to be supported by the AS4 handler; deciding which types of message exchanges must be supported, and how these exchanges should be conducted (level of security, binding to HTTP, etc.); deciding of AS4-specific message contents and practices (how to make use of the ebMS message header fields, in an AS4 context); deciding of some operational best practices, for the end-user. The overall goal of a profile for a standard is to ensure interoperability by establishing particular usage and practices of the standard within a community of users and defining the subset of features in this standard that needs to be supported by an implementation...

Two AS4 conformance profiles (CP) are defined: (1) the AS4 ebHandler CP. This conformance profile supports both Sending and Receiving roles, and for each role both message pushing and message pulling. (2) the AS4 light Client CP. This conformance profile supports both Sending and Receiving roles, but only message pushing for Sending and message pulling for Receiving. In other words, it does not support incoming HTTP requests, and may have no IP address..." The second specification "OASIS ebXML Messaging Services 3.0 Conformance Profiles Version 1.0" provides a non-normative supplement to the ebMS-3 specification. It defines some conformance profiles that support specific messaging styles or context of use. Future releases of this document are likely to be augmented with additional conformance profiles that reflect the choices or needs of user communities. As a pre-condition to interoperability it is necessary for two implementations to agree on which common conformance profile, or which compatible conformance profiles, they will comply with. This document and its future releases is intended as a medium to publish conformance profiles that users and products will claim compliance with...

See also: ebMS-3 Conformance Profiles

Timothy Berners-Lee Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Deirdre Blake, DDJ

Timothy Berners-Lee, the 3Com Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Berners-Lee is also director of the World Wide Web Consortium. The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. Along with Berners-Lee, the National Academy of Sciences announced the election of 72 new members and 17 other foreign associates from 15 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Other notables elected to the Academy this year include Thomas Hughes, Jr., the Mathematics Chair III at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) and professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Texas, Austin; John E. Hopcroft, professor in the computer science department at Cornell University in New York; and Christos Papadimitriou, the C. Lester Hogan Professor in the computer science division at the University of California at Berkeley. The distinction is yet another of the many laurels accumulated by web-pioneer Berners-Lee. He is credited with "inventing" the world wide web for his early work on hypertext and client/server communication and is considered the "father" of the Semantic Web. Berners-Lee received the IEEE Medal of Honor in 2008, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004, received the first Millennium Prize from Finland also in 2004, and received the Computer History Museum's Fellow Award in 2003. [Note recently: "WWW 2009 Conference Opens with Tim Berners-Lee Keynote 'Twenty Years'."]

See also: the University of Southampton story

IE8 vs Firefox 3.5: The Browser Wars Continue
Peter Bruzzese, InfoWorld

Features in Internet Explorer [IE8] and Firefox [3.5] run neck and neck. Will a victor emerge? It may come down to convenience... IE8 now has a feature called InPrivate Browsing, which prevents IE from storing data about your browsing sessions, including cookies, temporary Internet files, history, and other data. I've used this mode at conferences while on kiosk machines, and it adds to my comfort level, even though I still cannot help but delete browsing history whenever I access a public machine. Likewise, Firefox 3 has Private Browsing, which provides the same functionality and does not retain visited pages, form and search bar entries, passwords, cookies, temporary or cached Internet files, and so forth... IE8 has some cool features to make browsing and working smoother: Accelerators let you do in one (or a few) clicks what it used to take you more clicks, often with cutting and pasting and so forth, to accomplish various tasks; Web slices, aka automatic feed updates; new SmartScreen Filter (an enhancement to the Phishing Filter) and Compatibility Views...

Firefox 3.5 beta 4 touts increased performance and stability with the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine (where Firefox needs to outdo Chrome and Safari), support for native JSON and Web worker threads, and new Web technologies like HTML5 video and audio features, all of which have developers' mouths watering... One important feature for enterprises is multiple language availability. Firefox currently boasts 70 languages. IE8 currently supports 43, with 20 more coming in the near future. Another key attribute is controllability by administrators: IE8 uses Microsoft's well-entrenched group policies, a plus. However, for Firefox, there are other ways (some of them free, like FrontMotion's Firefox Community Edition) to enforce settings across your organization through ActiveDirectory using administrative templates — similar to locking down settings with mozilla.cfg on one computer. You might also consider FirefoxADM from or PolicyPak for Firefox and other Group Policy configuration tools. Microsoft categorizes browsers as having either Level 1 or Level 2 support for its SharePoint server. Microsoft recommended Level 1 browsers, which were only its own browsers (IE6 and IE7). Level 2 support permitted only basic functionality and encompassed competing browsers such as Firefox 1.5 and Safari 2.0. But that's changing. SP2 for the Microsoft Office 2007 System, which shipped yesterday, provides official support for both IE8 and Firefox 3.0 browsers. With SharePoint becoming a larger staple in intranets of late, this broader support is a plus for those holding back on Firefox deployments due to SharePoint. Similarly, Exchange 2010 Outlook Web Access also offers broader browser support for the full OWA experience, as opposed to the OWA Lite that Firefox users encountered in the past...


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