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Last modified: May 26, 2009
XML Daily Newslink. Tuesday, 26 May 2009

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

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

Towards a Repository-Enabled Scholar's Workbench: RepoMMan, REMAP, and Hydra
Richard Green and Chris Awre, D-Lib Magazine

Between April 2005 and March 2009, the e-Services Integration Group at the University of Hull undertook two Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)-funded projects, RepoMMan, and REMAP. The RepoMMan tool developed a browser-based interface through which a user could interact with a private digital repository space to support the development of their works-in-progress. It went on to look at the processes involved in publishing such works to a public-facing repository and to investigate the possibility of generating metadata for the published object automatically. The follow-on REMAP Project implemented the publishing process and also investigated how triggers might be embedded in the objects that were created that would help with management and possible preservation of the object over time. The work of RepoMMan and REMAP has now been taken up in an international collaboration, the Hydra Project, which seeks to develop a repository-enabled "Scholars' Workbench". This will be a highly flexible system that will provide a search and discovery interface for a Fedora repository and that can be configured to provide interactive workflows around it for pre-publication development of materials and their post-publication management. The RepoMMan Project set out to explore how a repository might be used to support the development of important works-in-progress by staff, and perhaps subsequently students, at a university. There were two 'givens' at the start of the project: that RepoMMan would use the Fedora repository software3 and that the workflow behind it should be implemented by Web Services orchestrated using the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL)...

The REMAP Project took the RepoMMan tool and implemented the publishing process, including the automated metadata generation. Additionally, in creating a new digital object for the public-facing repository, the REMAP tool embeds information that can be used for ongoing records management and digital preservation (RMDP). Using this embedded RMDP information the project has shown how, using a calendar server, alerts could be sent to appropriate repository staff over an extended period of time to ensure that materials in the repository are looked after effectively Recognising that not all potential users will wish to work with BPEL, each of the three universities is developing a separate approach to orchestrating their Web Services. At Hull we will continue to work with BPEL whilst Stanford and Virginia will each develop a different approach. The search and discovery interface will be written using Ruby and will incorporate Virginia's 'Blacklight' search tool. Work is well under way and the partners each hope to have the core of a production system in place for the academic year 2009/10. The software will then be successively generalised and made available to others; in addition the toolkit will be developed for other users to implement RepoMMan-like processes prior to repository submission and REMAP-like processes following deposit, each according to local needs...

See also: the University of Hull eDocs repository

Google Declares: 'The Web Has Won'
David Needle,

At its I/O developer conference, Google touts new Web developer tools and standards. Google kicked off its I/O developer conference here with a spirited endorsement of new Web tools and adoption of new standards, particularly HTML 5, as driving a new generation of more innovative applications. "The Web has won—it's the dominant programming model of our time," said Vic Gondotra, Google's vice president for engineering. Gondotra and other Google personnel showed off new tools including Web Elements, designed to simplify the process of adding new features to Web sites. In a demo, a Google product manager showed how to add features like search and geolocation to a Web site by copying and pasting a block of Web Elements code. In his discussion of HTML 5, Gondotra was later joined by officials from Mozilla and also Palm, who strongly endorsed the Web content standard. Gondotra noted that leading browsers are already supporting elements of HTML 5, including Firefox, Opera, and Chrome... Gondotra said years ago, when he worked at Microsoft, there had been a lot of doubt that Web applications could ever match the performance of desktop applications. But he said the gap is rapidly closing. For instance, Google today showed off a browser-based 3-D environment similar to a rich interactive game, with lifelike textures and lighting...

See also: InformationWeek

W3C Report: Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social Development
Staff, W3C Announcement

W3C has published a report documenting output from the "W3C Workshop on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social and Economic Development", held in Maputo, Mozambique on 1-2 April 2009. This workshop was organized by the W3C Mobile Web for Social Development Interest Group, part of the EU FP7 project Digital World Forum. During the two day event, the 70+ participants held discussions regarding the potential of mobile technologies in the development sector.

The key outcomes that are expanded in this document can be summarized as follow:

  1. SMS is the technology that is the most easily accessible to NGOs, grassroots organizations and people seeking to deliver mobile services. However, in many cases, text can be a barrier (being inaccessible to people with low reading skills and being too limited for richer applications) and discovery is an issue.

  2. Voice applications are now attracting attention as they are providing a more natural way of interacting with people, and therefore lowering the barriers of ICT adoption. However, expertise, tools, and training are still lacking.

  3. Mobile browsing is now becoming a viable option to deliver richer content and develop more complex applications. Stable and reliable GPRS, when available, offers a relatively more affordable way of providing content to people. Richer applications, using images, and graphics such as icons, are also offering increased added-value services and easier access for underprivileged populations. Nevertheless, the lack of awareness both on how to use web technologies and build mobile web sites, and on the availability of tools is a blocking factor for a wider adoption by NGOs, grassroots organizations, and entrepreneurs. Roaming costs can also be seen as an obstacle in reaching the poorest sectors of the population.

  4. The lack of collaboration, cooperation, and sharing among people working in the field (NGOs, grassroots organizations) is a major issue leading to the appearance of many competing systems and platforms to tackle similar issues. One (but not the only) major reason of this situation is the lack of visibility and awareness of what others are doing.

  5. Issues related to scalability, replicability and sustainability of ongoing and planned projects are quintessential and required the involvement of all stakeholders (government, entrepreneurs, NGOs, local communities). Providing services and information to the next billion users or so can only be accomplished in this fashion...

Workshop participants acknowledged the importance of organizing such events gathering people working in the field, including technologists, industry representatives, and those working in international organizations. A future instance of such events should integrate a pre-event session on demonstration, to show what is possible, as well as what are the existing tools, and how to use them.

See also: the text of the W3C report

Opera: Web Standards Could Eclipse Flash
David Meyer, ZDNet Blog

The open web standards included in HyperText Markup Language version 5 (HTML 5) provide a viable alternative to Adobe's proprietary Flash for the delivery of rich media web content, Jon von Tetzchner [recently reported]. Opera is one of three browser makers (the others are Apple and Mozilla) that have been working on HTML 5 since 2004. The work is being conducted in the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (Whatwg). The Whatwg was formed in response to a perceived slowness in the World Wide Web Consortiums's (W3C) development of HTML, and its work has since been fed into the W3C's HTML working group. HTML 5 includes many revisions to the website-writing language, such as new application programming interfaces (APIs) to control audio and video content. Although HTML 5 is unlikely to be presented by the W3C in its final form until 2012 at the earliest, many of its features can be implemented today—as Microsoft has done in Internet Explorer 8... Von Tetzchner said that HTML 5's handling of rich media meant that Flash (Adobe's ubiquitous, proprietary multimedia platform for the web) is becoming largely unnecessary. "You can do most things with web standards today," von Tetzchner said. "In some ways, you may say you don't need Flash'... I like Adobe... I think Flash will be around for a very, very long time, but I think it's natural that web standards also evolve to be richer. You can then choose whether you'd like to deliver rich media content through web standards or whether you'd like to use Flash'... Given its widespread use in delivering rich media content on the web, Flash's proprietary nature has long been of concern to web-standards watchers. Adobe's Open Screen Project, launched last year, was partly aimed at opening up the platform's APIs to allow greater interoperability and consistency in Flash's implementation.

See also: the HTML 5 draft

SIP Interface to VoiceXML Media Services
Dave Burke and Mark Scott (eds), IETF Standards Track RFC

The IETF RFC-Editor announced the availability of an IETF 'Proposed Standard' for the specification SIP Interface to VoiceXML Media Services. The specification was produced by members of the IETF Media Server Control Working Group. This Proposed Standard Protocol specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the Internet community, and IETF requests discussion and suggestions for improvements. Summary: the specification "describes a SIP interface to VoiceXML media services. Commonly, Application Servers controlling Media Servers use this protocol for pure VoiceXML processing capabilities. This protocol is an adjunct to the full MEDIACTRL protocol and packages mechanism."

From the 'Introduction': VoiceXML is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standard for creating audio and video dialogs that feature synthesized speech, digitized audio, recognition of spoken and dual tone multi-frequency (DTMF) key input, recording of audio and video, telephony, and mixed-initiative conversations. VoiceXML allows Web-based development and content delivery paradigms to be used with interactive video and voice response applications. This document describes a SIP (RFC 3261) interface to VoiceXML media services. Commonly, Application Servers controlling media servers use this protocol for pure VoiceXML processing capabilities. SIP is responsible for initiating a media session to the VoiceXML media server and simultaneously triggering the execution of a specified VoiceXML application. This protocol is an adjunct to the full MEDIACTRL protocol and packages mechanism. The interface described here leverages a mechanism for identifying dialog media services first described in RFC 4240. The interface has been updated and extended to support the W3C Recommendation for both VoiceXML 2.0 and VoiceXML 2.1. A set of commonly implemented functions and extensions have been specified including VoiceXML dialog preparation, outbound calling, video media support, and transfers. VoiceXML session variable mappings have been defined for SIP with an extensible mechanism for passing application-specific values into the VoiceXML application. Mechanisms for returning data to the Application Server have also been added... The VoiceXML media service user in this document is generically referred to as an Application Server. In practice, it is intended that the interface defined by this document be applicable across a wide range of use cases.

See also: the IETF Media Server Control (MEDIACTRL) Working Group

Associating Schematron With Documents in Editors
Rick Jelliffe, O'Reilly Technical

"There is an effort at ISO SC34 WG1 to try to get an agreed on way to associate documents with schemas. W3C XSD has its hints like the '@xsi:schemaLocation' construct, but it has the flaw of needing the schema to be altered in order to allow the document with the hint to be valid. A processing instruction (PI) is clearly a much less intrusive approach, with the model being <?xml-stylesheet?>. Topologi has long used a PI at the top to give the document a label, which can then be used to select a configuration file. It was once one of my projects to push ahead with getting such a PI'; George Bina from Oxygen was onside too... I am glad that others in ISO SC34 WG1 are taking this up... XMLBlueprint XML Editor version 7 has been released. Among the new features is support for "ISO Schematron - Validation and XML Completion," including a Schematron editor. Documents can be associated with Schematron schemas using an XML processing instruction thus: <?blueprint schematron="book.sch"?>. I see also that the most recent version of Oxygen XML also supports a good range of the ISO DSDL spectrum: ISO Schematron (including abstract patterns and XSLT2 constraints), RELAX NG, NVDL. Documents can be associated with Schematron schemas using a processing instruction <?oxygen SCHSchema="file:/C:/work/book.sch" type="xml"?>'. Oxygen also have a good short video introduction to Schematron for programmers that I recommend. XML Mind also supports ISO Schematron, They have a PI for associating RELAX NG schemas, but I didn't see one for Schematron. However, I was really pleased to see how they supported phases. Phrases are a mechanism in Schematron that groups patterns so that you run some and not others: according to their configuration guide you can actually use an expression in their configuration file to decide which phase to use..."

See also: ISO Schematron


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