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Last modified: June 22, 2010
XML Daily Newslink. Tuesday, 22 June 2010

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

This issue of XML Daily Newslink is sponsored by:
ISIS Papyrus

Proposed Recommendation: Web Security Context User Interface Guidelines
Thomas Roessler and Anil Saldhana (eds), W3C Technical Report

The W3C Web Security Context Working Group has published a Proposed Recommendation specification for Web Security Context: User Interface Guidelines. Public comment on the document is invited through 20-July-2010. The WG notes that substantive technical comments were received during the Last Call review period that ended 31-March-2010. The goal of this W3C Working Group is to enable users to come to a better understanding of the context that they are operating in when making trust decisions on the Web; e.g., giving up passwords or other sensitive information to possibly malicious sites.

The specification deals with the trust decisions that users must make online, and with ways to support them in making safe and informed decisions where possible. It specifies user interactions with a goal toward making security usable, based on known best practice in this area. The document is intended to provide user interface guidelines... Since this document is part of the W3C specification process, it is written to clearly lay out the requirements and options for conforming to it as a standard. User interface guidelines that are not intended for use as standards do not have such a structure. Readers more familiar with that latter form of user interface guideline are encouraged to read this specification as a way to avoid known mistakes in usable security.

In order to achieve its goal, the specification includes recommendations on the presentation of identity information by user agents. It also includes recommendations on conveying error situations in security protocols. The error handling recommendations both minimize the trust decisions left to users, and represent known best practice in inducing users toward safe behavior where they have to make these decisions. To complement the interaction and decision related parts of this specification, Section 7 'Robustness Best Practices' addresses the question of how the communication of context information needed to make decisions can be made more robust against attacks.

This specification comes with two companion documents. 'Web Security Experience, Indicators and Trust: Scope and Use Cases' documents the initial assumptions about the scope of this specification. It also includes an initial set of use cases the Working Group discussed. 'Web User Interaction: Threat Trees' documents the Working Group's initial threat analysis. This document is based on current best practices in deployed user agents, and covers the use cases and threats in those documents to that extent..."

See also: the UI Guidelines Implementation Report

Open Source Apache ODE (Orchestration Director Engine) Version 1.3.4
Tammo van Lessen, Apache Announcement

On behalf of the Apache ODE Development Team, Tammo van Lessen announced the Version 1.3.4 release of ODE (Orchestration Director Engine), which provides a web-service capable workflow engine. Highlights of this release include (1) Instance replayer: Message exchanges between partners and processes can be recorded, retrieved and replayed. This allows for migrating running process instances to newer versions of a process model or to another ODE instance. (2) Process OSGi bundles: Process models can be packaged and deployed as OSGi bundles (ServiceMix). (3) Spring-based properties: Spring properties can be accessed via XPath extensions in BPEL (ServiceMix). ODE also offers side-by-side support for both the WS-BPEL 2.0 OASIS standard and the legacy BPEL4WS 1.1 vendor specification. It supports 2 communication layers: one based on Axis2 (Web Services http transport) and another one based on the JBI standard (using ServiceMix)..."

Apache ODE (Orchestration Director Engine) "executes business processes written following the WS-BPEL standard. It talks to web services, sending and receiving messages, handling data manipulation and error recovery as described by your process definition. It supports both long and short living process executions to orchestrate all the services that are part of your application.

WS-BPEL is an XML-based language defining several constructs to write business processes. It defines a set of basic control structures like conditions or loops as well as elements to invoke web services and receive messages from services. It relies on WSDL to express web services interfaces. Message structures can be manipulated, assigning parts or the whole of them to variables that can in turn be used to send other messages.

The principal objective in the development of ODE was to create a reliable, compact, and embedable component capable of managing the execution of long-running business processes defined using the BPEL process description language. The focus has been on developing small modules with minimal dependencies that could be assembled (and easily reassembled) to construct a full featured BPMS. The key components of the ODE architecture include the ODE BPEL Compiler, ODE BPEL Engine Runtime, ODE Data Access Objects (DAOs), ODE Integration Layers (ILs), and user tooling... The BPEL compiler is responsible for the conversion of the source BPEL artifacts (i.e. BPEL process documents, WSDLs, and schemas) into a compiled representation suitable for execution. The output of the compiler is either a "good" compiled representation, or a list of error messages indicating problems with the source artefacts... The runtime handles the dirty work of process execution by providing implementations of the various BPEL constructs. The runtime also implements the logic necessary to determine when a new instance should be created, and to which instance an incoming message should be delivered. Finally, the runtime implements the Process Management API that is used by user tooling to interact with the engine..."

See also: the OASIS WS-BPEL Extension for People (BPEL4People) TC

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Options for Coordinate-Based Location Configuration Information
James Polk, John Schnizlein, Marc Linsner (et al., eds) IETF Internet Draft

Members of the IETF Geographic Location/Privacy (GEOPRIV) Working Group have published a revised draft of the Standards Track specification Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Options for Coordinate-Based Location Configuration Information. If approved, this IETF specification will obsolete IETF RFC #3825, published in July 2004.

The IETF GEOPRIV working group was chartered "to continue to develop and refine representations of location in Internet protocols, and to analyze the authorization, integrity, and privacy requirements that must be met when these representations of location are created, stored, and used. Many applications are emerging that require geographic and civic location information about resources and entities, and that the representation and transmission of that information has significant privacy and security implications... The IETF has also begun working on creating applications that use these capabilities, for emergency services, general real-time communication, and other usages.

This document specifies Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Options (both DHCPv4 and DHCPv6) for the coordinate-based geographic location of a client. The Location Configuration Information (LCI) includes Latitude, Longitude, and Altitude, with resolution or uncertainty indicators for each, where separate parameters indicate the reference datum for each of these values... Appendix A ('GML Mapping') defines an XML-based GML representation of a decoded DHCP option, which depends on what fields are specified. The DHCP format for location logically describes a geodetic prism, rectangle, or point, depending on whether Altitude and uncertainty values are provided...

From the Introduction: "The physical location of a network device has a range of applications. In particular, emergency telephony applications rely on knowing the location of a caller in order to determine the correct emergency center. The location of a device can be represented either in terms of geospatial (or geodetic) coordinates, or as a civic address. Different applications may be more suited to one form of location information; therefore, both the geodetic and civic forms may be used simultaneously... Typically DHCP clients refresh their configuration in response to changes in interface state or pending lease expirations. As a result, when a mobile host changes location without subsequently completing another DHCP exchange, location configuration information initially obtained via DHCP could become outdated..."

See also: the IETF Geographic Location/Privacy (GEOPRIV) Working Group Status Pages

W3C Cheatsheet on Android Market
Dominique Hazaël-Massieux, Blog

"The W3C Cheatsheet for Web Developers is a compact Web application that provides quick access to useful information from various W3C specs. Making that Web app mobile friendly has always been one of its design goals: it uses a very compact layout, the JavaScript-based auto-complete search was tweaked to work reasonably well with mobile keyboards (including virtual keyboards), it uses HTML5's ApplicationCache to be usable off-line in browsers that support it.

One of the W3C Working Groups, the Web Applications Working Group is developing a stack of specifications to make it easier to develop applications with widgets. There are quite a few similar efforts in various communities: Nokia's Web runtime engine, Firefox add-ons, Chrome extensions, and Safari extensions to name a few. It will be interesting to see if all these efforts end up converging toward the current (or a future revision of) the W3C widgets specifications.

The W3C Cheat Sheet on Android is obviously not particularly an endorsement of Android, even less so an endorsement of the world of applications markets; a growing number of people seem to see these markets as in opposition to the Web—my personal opinion is that they're probably complementary, the same way a Web portal or a social bookmarking service are complementary to search engines

This Cheat Sheet on Android allows quick access to: (1) the description of the various language tokens (elements, attributes, properties, functions, etc) of HTML, CSS, SVG and XPath, through the text entry box on the Search tab; when you start typing a string, a drop down menu appears, allowing to select a token among those that match what you have typed; (2) the summary of the Mobile Web Best Practices, under the mobile tab; (3) the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 at a glance, under the accessibility tab; (4) the internationalization quicktips under the I18N tab; (5) and some typography reminders in the typography tab..."

See also: the compiled Android application

DMTF Announces Common Diagnostics Model (CDM) Conformance Program v1.0
Staff, Distributed Management Task Force Announcement

"DMTF has announced the opening of the Common Diagnostic Model 1.0 Conformance Program (CDM 1.0). Interested companies can now begin testing their products using the CDM 1.0 Conformance Test Suite (CTS) and submitting their results to the CDM Conformance Program Administrator for validation.

The CDM Conformance Program (CDM CP) is designed to validate CDM implementations to a particular version of the CDM Implementation Requirements Specification and is managed and sponsored by the CDM Forum. CDM is used to evaluate the health of computer system components in multivendor environments. It specifies diagnostics instrumentation that can be utilized by vendors (OEMs and system builders) and platform management applicants to determine the health of a computer system components.

Companies interested in participating in the CDM CP self-test their implementation using the applicable CDM Conformance Test Suite and submit their digitally signed results to the CDM Conformance Program Administrator (an independent third party) for validation. The results will be validated by the Conformance Program Administrator. Certified results may be submitted for inclusion in the DMTF Certification Registry.

The CDM 1.0 Conformance Test Suite (CTS) software is provided by DMTF to industry leading vendors developing diagnostics within the DMTF DSP 1002 Profile Specification 1.0 using the CIM-XML protocol. A WS-Management protocol version of the CTS will be available in the near future... The conformance programs are a key piece of DMTF's mission to promote interoperable IT management solutions. DMTF is committed to helping members develop and test standards-based products for their customers..."

See also: the DMTF Common Information Model (CIM) Standards

Write Real-Time Web Applications with XMPP, PHP, and JavaScript
Ben Werdmuller, IBM developerWorks

Real-time web applications allow users to receive notifications as soon as information is published, without needing to check the original source manually for updates. They have been popularized by social-notification tools like Twitter and Friendfeed, web-based collaboration tools like Google Wave, and web-based chat clients like Meebo.

The Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) is an XML-based set of technologies for real-time applications, defined as networked applications that continually update in response to new or changed data. It was originally developed as a framework to support instant messaging and presence applications within enterprise environments...

This tutorial introduces you to the real-time web and takes you through some of the reasons for building real-time web applications. You learn techniques that allow you to create responsive, continually updated web applications that conserve server resources while providing a slick user experience.

HTTP Strict Transport Security
Jeff Hodges, Collin Jackson, Adam Barth (eds), IETF Internet Draft

An initial level -00 IETF Internet Draft has been published for the Standards Track specification HTTP Strict Transport Security. This specification defines a mechanism enabling Web sites to declare themselves accessible only via secure connections, and/or for users to be able to direct their user agent(s) to interact with given sites only over secure connections. This overall policy is referred to as Strict Transport Security (STS). The policy is declared by Web sites via the Strict-Transport-Security HTTP Response Header Field. Use cases illustrated include: (1) A Web browser user wishes to discover, or be introduced to, and/or utilize various web sites (some arbitrary, some known) in a secure fashion. (2) A Web site deployer wishes to offer their site in an explicitly secure fashion for both their own, as well as their users', benefit.

From the Introduction: "The HTTP protocol may be used over various transports, typically the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). However, TCP does not provide channel integrity protection, confidentiality, nor secure server identification. Thus the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol and its successor Transport Layer Security (TLS) were developed in order to provide channel-oriented security, and are typically layered between application protocols and TCP. RFC 2818 specifies how HTTP is layered onto TLS, and defines the Universal Resource Identifier (URI) scheme of 'https' (in practice however, HTTP user agents (UAs) typically offer their users choices among SSL2, SSL3, and TLS for secure transport)... UAs employ various local security policies with respect to the characteristics of their interactions with web resources depending on (in part) whether they are communicating with a given web resource using HTTP or HTTP-over-a-Secure-Transport. For example, cookies may be flagged as Secure. UAs are to send such Secure cookies to their addressed server only over a secure transport. This is in contrast to non-Secure cookies, which are returned to the server regardless of transport, although modulo other rules...

UAs typically annunciate to their users any issues with secure connection establishment, such as being unable to validate a server certificate trust chain, or if a server certificate is expired, or if a server's domain name appears incorrectly in the server certificate. Often, UAs provide for users to be able to elect to continue to interact with a web resource in the face of such issues. This behavior is sometimes referred to as 'click(ing) through' security, and thus can be described as 'click-through insecurity'..

Jackson and Barth proposed an approach (ForceHTTPS) to enable web sites and/or users to be able to declare that such issues are to be treated as fatal and without direct user recourse. The aim is to prevent users from unintentionally downgrading their security. This specification embodies and refines the approach proposed in 'ForceHTTPS: Protecting High-Security Web Sites from Network Attacks', e.g., a HTTP response header field is used to convey site policy to the UA rather than a cookie..."

See also: Security Requirements for HTTP

User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) Version 2.0
James Allan, Kelly Ford, Jan Richards, Jeanne Spellman (eds), W3C Technical Report

The W3C User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has published an updated Working Draft of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 2.0. This document provides guidelines for designing user agents that lower barriers to Web accessibility for people with disabilities.

User agents include browsers and other types of software that retrieve and render Web content. A user agent that conforms to these guidelines will promote accessibility through its own user interface and through other internal facilities, including its ability to communicate with other technologies, especially assistive technologies. Furthermore, all users, not just users with disabilities, should find conforming user agents to be more usable.

In addition to helping developers of browsers and media players, this document will also benefit developers of assistive technologies because it explains what types of information and control an assistive technology may expect from a conforming user agent. Technologies not addressed directly by this document (e.g., technologies for braille rendering) will be essential to ensuring Web access for some users with disabilities

The Working Group requests comments now in preparation for Last Call. Members of the Working Group also published a Working Draft of the Implementing UAAG 2.0 supporting Note. It provides explanation of the intent of UAAG 2.0 success criteria, examples of implementation of the guidelines, best practice recommendations and additional resources for the guideline..."

See also: Implementing UAAG 2.0

FTC Says Current Privacy Laws Aren't Working
Declan McCullagh, CNET

"A U.S. Federal Trade Commission representative recently delivered a stern indictment of current privacy laws, saying they fail to protect American consumers and instead place too much of a burden on them. The existing constellation of privacy laws, which relies heavily on disclosure of data collection and use practices and on informed consumer choice [but] to compare the privacy policies of two companies is an almost impossible task...

These sentiments are likely to be reflected in a widely anticipated report that the agency plans to publish later this year. The report is expected to offer to Congress recommendations on new laws and may state that the FTC intends to expand its current authority around policing 'deceptive' practices to address more Internet-related business practices...

Kathryn Ratte, a senior attorney in the FTC's consumer protection bureau: 'In an area like cloud computing, which demonstrates some of the limits of these traditional structures, the current notice and choice model in some very basic sense isn't working...'

More hints have come in the form of an FTC document that suggests cloud computing services could be targeted for more regulation. The ability of these services to collect and centrally store increasing amounts of consumer data, combined with the ease with which such centrally stored data may be shared with others, create a risk..."

Scientific Computing in the Cloud
John Rehr, Fernando Vila, et al., IEEE Computing in Science and Engineering

"Modern cloud computing platforms vary, but they share two critical features: they abstract the underlying compute components and they typically charge users incrementally based on their usage. The 'pay-as-you-go' billing strategy isn't new, and it has many potential advantages, especially for scientists who don't require 24/7 accessibility. Many academic computational researchers have used shared compute facilities for decades and are accustomed to being billed per CPU-hour. What makes cloud architectures a compelling new product for scientific computing—and what differentiates them from existing supercomputing facilities—is the way they abstract the underlying compute components...

We explored a variety of promising methods that let users interact with custom AMIs—ranging from predefined scripts that manage AMIs locally to tools that let users remotely ssh into the instances and control them directly. This virtualization lets code developers optimize and preinstall scientific codes on AMIs, thus facilitating control over the computational environment.

In terms of performance, we've demonstrated that the EC2 cloud clusters can provide access to reliable, high-performance computation for general scientific users without requiring that they purchase and maintain hardware on their own, provided that their application doesn't demand high-performance network interconnects. Serial performance of scientific codes was comparable to bare-metal runs on similar hardware.

However, the network that connects the EC2 compute hardware in the same Amazon availability zone has similar latency and bandwidth characteristics to a gigabit Ethernet network in a large office building. Although network performance could have been even worse (Amazon offers no guarantees), it's still a far cry from the capability of the highperformance interconnects found on most academic high-end computing clusters..."


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