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Last modified: December 16, 2010
XML Daily Newslink. Thursday, 16 December 2010

Newsletter Archive:
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

W3C Revises XPath 2.0, XQuery 1.0, XQueryX 1.0 Recomendations
Anders Berglund, Jim Melton (et al, eds), W3C Technical Reports

Members of the W3C XML Query and XSL Working Groups have published three revised Recommendations: XML Path Language (XPath) 2.0 (Second Edition), XQuery 1.0: An XML Query Language (Second Edition), and XML Syntax for XQuery 1.0 (XQueryX) (Second Edition).

XPath is a language for selecting parts of XML documents; XQuery and XQueryX are query languages for selecting, joining and manipulating XML documents. All three languages operate on any data source that can be represented as instances of the XQuery and XPath abstract Data Model. Also published are second editions of their supporting documents: "XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Data Model (XDM)," Query 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Functions and Operators," "XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Formal Semantics," and "XSLT 2.0 and XQuery 1.0 Serialization."

The new editions incorporate errata and make a number of clarifications that resulted from experience of over fifty (50) implementations and widespread use. In addition, a number of issues that arose during testing for the second edition were clarified, a process that took several months. The Working Groups are continuing to process issues that arrived after the end of the review period; any resulting changes will be incorporated either into a third edition or into the 3.0 versions of these documents.

XPath 2.0 "is an expression language that allows the processing of values conforming to the data model defined in 'XQuery 1.0' and 'XPath 2.0 Data Model. The data model provides a tree representation of XML documents as well as atomic values such as integers, strings, and booleans, and sequences that may contain both references to nodes in an XML document and atomic values. The result of an XPath expression may be a selection of nodes from the input documents, or an atomic value, or more generally, any sequence allowed by the data model. The name of the language derives from its most distinctive feature, the path expression, which provides a means of hierarchic addressing of the nodes in an XML tree. XPath 2.0 is a superset of XPath 1.0, with the added capability to support a richer set of data types, and to take advantage of the type information that becomes available when documents are validated using XML Schema.... XQuery is a standardized language for combining documents, databases, Web pages and almost anything else. XQuery is replacing proprietary middleware languages and Web Application development languages. XQuery is replacing complex Java or C++ programs with a few lines of code, and is simpler to work with and easier to maintain than many other alternatives..."

See also: the W3C news item      [TOC]

World Meteorological Organization Plans CAP Implementation Workshop
Eliot Christian, WMO Announcement

"The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have been promoting implementation of Common Alerting Protocol (CAP, Recommendation ITU-T X.1303) as the foundation standard for all-hazards, all-media alerting. Another CAP Implementation Workshop is being planned for 6-7 April 2011 at WMO in Geneva. This Workshop will be a discussion forum among CAP implementers, CAP technology providers, and other organizations with an interest in emergency alerting. Presentations will be made on a range of topics, e.g., 'Use of CAP in Climate Services - Panel Discussion'; 'Report on the WMO Register of Alerting Authorities'; 'Using Object Identifiers (OIDs) in the WMO Register of Alerting Authorities and in CAP Messages...' Common Alerting Protocol Version Version 1.2, published as an OASIS Standard in July 2010, is a "simple but general format for exchanging all-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over all kinds of networks. CAP allows a consistent warning message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems, thus increasing warning effectiveness while simplifying the warning task."

From the Welcome Address of Peiliang Shi, Director, WMO Information System (WIS): "This Workshop is organized jointly under the WMO Information System and the WMO Public Weather Services Programme, with the support of our co-sponsor, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Let me express, on behalf of WMO, our appreciation to ITU for their sponsorship. Among the 189 Member nations and territories that comprise WMO there is a growing awareness of the need for a standard-based, all hazards, all media approach to public alerting. The WMO Congress in May 2007 requested the Secretary-General to improve the exchange of high priority data and products in support of a virtual all hazards network, as a crucial WMO contribution to the effective exchange and distribution of early warning and related data

Alerting systems have been developed and implemented in a patchwork fashion around the world. Most alerting systems remain very localised to a specific kind of communications media and to a specific type of hazard. Recommendation ITU-T X.1303, the Common Alerting Protocol, is a breakthrough standard that enables a broader vision. The CAP format is designed for 'all-hazards', addressing weather events, earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes, public health, power outages, and many other emergencies. CAP is also designed for 'all-media', addressing communications media ranging from sirens to cell phones, faxes, radio, television, and various digital communication networks including the Internet...

WMO and ITU are united in pushing for rapid, global adoption of CAP. Accordingly, this small, single-issue workshop is convened as a forum for coordination among CAP implementers, technology experts, and other organizations involved in emergency alerting..."

See also: the presentations from the 2009 Workshop      [TOC]

Transclusion: Many Flavors, Some More Easily Supported than Others
Norman Walsh, Blog

XML offers a number of transclusion mechanisms, some better supported than others. There are DTD mechanisms (e.g., general entities), there are general solutions like XInclude, and more language-specific solutions like DITA conref. [The W3C XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0 Recommendation 'specifies a processing model and syntax for general purpose inclusion; inclusion is accomplished by merging a number of XML information sets into a single composite infoset; specification of the XML documents (infosets) to be merged and control over the merging process is expressed in XML-friendly syntax using elements, attributes, and URI references'. And: 'DITA content referencing (conref) is a convenient DITA mechanism for reuse of content from other topics or maps; a fragment of content in one topic or map can be pulled by reference into any other topic or map where the content is allowed.'...]

These mechanisms are not without their problems. Entities are problematic in some environments and XInclude relies on XPointer which suffers from a dearth of addressing schemes. This last point is precisely what put this issue back on the DocBook Technical Committee's radar. In addition, none of these mechanisms even attempt to address the issues that transclusion can introduce in the transcluded document, most obviously the problem of duplicate ID values...

In an effort to address the RFE, Jirka Kosek lead the TC through the process of determining the DocBook transclusion requirements (which are really, I think, the requirements of any documentation schema) and developed a proposal that addresses those requirements. Those documents are now available...

For my part, speaking personally and not as the DocBook TC chair, I have a couple of concerns that I hope public review will clarify. I think the solution is fairly complicated (because the problem is fairly complicated). So my first concern is about implementation. Will authors understand it and be able to use it easily? Will vendors implement it? My other concern is more vague. This feels like something more general than DocBook, it seems like something that other schemas might want to reuse, so I wonder if it belongs in DocBook specifically. I suppose if authors want it and vendors will implement it, we can let other folks copy it. In any event, your comments are most welcome..."

See also: the OASIS DocBook TC discussion      [TOC]

Social Networks and Archival Context Initial Public Release
Daniel Pitti, University of Virginia Announcement

"The NEH-funded Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Project is pleased to announce the initial public release of the draft prototype historical resource and access system based on EAC-CPF. The SNAC project addresses the ongoing challenge of transforming description of and improving access to primary humanities resources through the use of advanced technologies. The project will test the feasibility of using existing archival descriptions in new ways, in order to enhance access and understanding of cultural resources in archives, libraries, and museums...

Archivists have a long history of describing the people who—acting individually, in families, or in formally organized groups—create and collect primary sources. They research and describe the artists, political leaders, scientists, government agencies, soldiers, universities, businesses, families, and others who create and are represented in the items that are now part of our shared cultural legacy. However, because archivists have traditionally described records and their creators together, this information is tied to specific resources and institutions. Currently there is no system in place that aggregates and interrelates those descriptions.

Leveraging the new standard Encoded Archival Context-Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF), the SNAC Project uses digital technology to unlock descriptions of people from descriptions of their records and link them together in exciting new ways. First: creation of an efficient open-source tool that allows archivists to separate the process of describing people from that of records, meaning that it will pave the way for improving the quality of description and the quantity of resources described. Second: creation of an integrated portal to creator descriptions—linked to resource descriptions in archives, libraries and museums, online biographical and historical databases, and other diverse resources...

A key challenge is the reliability of a match, that is, that two name strings that match do in fact designate the same entity. For example, is this 'Brown, John', the same person as that 'Brown, John'? For personal names, when one or more life dates is present in both strings, there is a high likelihood that the names are for the same person. When a name string consists of only one or two name components, the reliability decreases. SNAC is attempting to address both of these challenges and in a manner that maximizes matching with acceptable reliability. In order to maximize matching, we are experimenting with algorithms for close but not exact matches. To increase reliability for 'weak strings,' that is, strings with one or two name components and no life dates, we are experimenting with considering contextual data derived from the source finding aid and contextual data in the enhanced VIAF authority records..."

See also: the original SNAC proposal      [TOC]

W3C Launches Federated Social Web Incubator Group
Harry Halpin, W3C Announcement

W3C has announced the creation of Federated Social Web Incubator Group, chartered to provide a set of community-driven specifications and a test-case suite for a federated social web. W3C Members DERI, Google, OpenLink, and Vodafone are the Initiating Members for this Incubator Group.

Details: "As our social interactions become the central point of our communication using the Web, there is an increasing need for a federated social web that any site, application, and device can easily join and share. In order for there to be massive uptake, the federated social web should offer a compelling experience for users. Furthermore, users would like to have the ability for these applications to respect the privacy of their social data in easy-to-understand and uniform ways.

The Federated Social Web Group's deliverables will primarily be a set of user stories with associated test-cases that build the core functionality of a federated social web, and the overall technical architecture for a federated social web should be investigated. One input for this architecture will be OStatus, which is an architecture combining Pubsubhubbub, WebFinger, ActivityStreams, and PortableContacts. However, many different kinds of architectures will also be used as inputs into the discussion, such as SMOB (RDFa and SPARQL) and XMPP-based architectures. The Federated Social Web Incubator Group will also strive to help mature the specifications that allow web developers to implement federated social web capabilities. These deliverables will apply to both social web-sites ran from the server-side but hopefully also to client-side environments such as desktop and mobile browsers.

The Federated Social Web Incubator Group will work on the following: (1) An interoperable number of user stories and associated test-cases for a federated social web, with a focus on a compelling user experience. A strawman input document is available. (2) The requirements and design of a meta-model (on the semantic level) and design patterns (on the protocol level) in order to share status updates on the Web. These may be implemented by a number of different architectures, and these architectures will be compared. (3) OStatus is one design pattern for the Federated Social Web. OStatus lets people on different social networks follow each other. It applies a group of related protocols (PubSubHubbub, ActivityStreams, Salmon, Portable Contacts, and Webfinger), and so is a minimal specification for distributed status updates, and many social applications can be modelled as status updates... Each test-case will hopefully have three independent implementations and a clearly defined user story that can be understood by ordinary users. A test harness should be designed that lets the test-cases be ran as much as possible in a semi-automated fashion..."

See also: the W3C Social Web Incubator Group Final Report      [TOC]

Facebook Photos Use Facial Recognition for Easier Tagging
Clint Boulton, eWEEK

In the category 'Web 2.0, SOA, and Web Services': Facebook will launch tag suggestions, a feature that uses facial recognition software to surface friends of friends on the social network, where 100 million photos are uploaded each day.

Facebook alerts users when they've been tagged, and they can untag themselves at any time. The idea of facial recognition software makes some people nervous. Google can do this with its Google Goggles visual search application, but has declined to do so for fear of the privacy backlash. Facebook has the benefit of a closed social network of 550 million users at its fingertips, so it can make such a push with the right safeguards..."

From Justin Mitchell's blog article: "Unlike photos that get forgotten in a camera or an unshared album, tagged photos help you and your friends relive everything from that life-altering skydiving trip to a birthday dinner where the laughter never stopped. Tags make photos one of the most popular features on Facebook... We've been working to make this process easier for you. First we added group tagging, so you could type one name and apply it to multiple photos of the same person. Now we're announcing tag suggestions, which will make tagging multiple photos even more convenient.

Because photos are such an important part of Facebook, we want to be sure you know exactly how tag suggestions work: When you or a friend upload new photos, we use face recognition software—similar to that found in many photo editing tools—to match your new photos to other photos you're tagged in. We group similar photos together and, whenever possible, suggest the name of the friend in the photos. If for any reason you don't want your name to be suggested, you will be able to disable suggested tags in your Privacy Settings. Just click 'Customize Settings' and 'Suggest photos of me to friends.' Your name will no longer be suggested in photo tags, though friends can still tag you manually..."

See also: Justin Mitchell's Facebook Blog      [TOC]

F5 Software to Expand Cloud Storage
Jeffrey Schwartz, Government Computer News

F5 Networks is readying software that will let enterprises extend their storage networks to public and private clouds. The company said it will release by year's end its ARX Cloud Extender, software that will let enterprises integrate cloud storage as part of their data center infrastructures... One of the challenges the cloud poses from a storage perspective is it speaks a different language. Where enterprises rely on protocols like NFS and CIFS in terms of file storage, public and private cloud is often based on an object based storage interface, such as the REST or SOAP APIs. In order to reconcile that requires translation, typically via gateways.

F5's Cloud Extender will work with third-party translation gateways. So far, F5 has certified it to work with Iron Mountain's Virtual File Store, NetApp's StorageGrid (the cloud-based storage solution it gained from its acquisition of Bycast earlier this year) and Amazon Web Services S3 database storage service. Others will be announced in the future... F5 is also extending its storage solution to branch locations. The company said it will release Virtual Edition, a software-based version of ARX that doesn't require the customer to purchase it as an appliance; rather, they can run it on an existing file server. The company also released its iControl File Services API, which will allow customers and ISVs to use ARX's real-time change-notification in their applications..."

According to the F5 Networks announcement: "F5 Networks announced major enhancements to its Data Solutions portfolio, including the ARX Cloud Extender solution, which supports a variety of cloud storage providers and object storage platforms; an ARX Virtual Edition (VE) appliance, which delivers the power of ARX as a flexible virtual machine; and the F5 iControl file services solution, which provides an open storage management API...

With the introduction of ARX VE, the solution will be available as a virtual appliance in addition to physical, hardware based offerings. ARX VE will be available via three distinct deployment options: a trial version for demonstration purposes, a full version suitable for production environments, and through OEM partners.. Through the iControl File Services API, customers can use ARX's real-time change notification capability to improve the scalability, responsiveness, and efficiency of a range of third-party applications such as search index, backup, audit, and quota management tools. The iControl file services API is available now and is included with F5's ARX platforms. F5's ARX Cloud Extender will be available in Q4 of calendar year 2010 and ARX Virtual Edition will be available in Q1 of calendar year 2011..."

See also: the F5 Networks announcement      [TOC]

Court Ruling Grants Email the Cloak of Privacy
Erika Morphy, Tech Law

"The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down a ruling that delights privacy advocates and Fourth Amendment purists: In U.S. v. Warshak, it found that the government should have obtained a search warrant before seizing and searching defendant Stephen Warshak's emails, which were stored by email service providers... It is an important ruling, because it is the first time a federal court of appeals has extended the Fourth Amendment to email with such careful consideration, and it is likely to be influential on both legal and practical levels.

It is important to remember, though, that this is one circuit court out of eleven, said Jim Dempsey, VP for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Dempsey is a member of the Digital Due Process coalition, formed earlier this year by such companies as Google, the ACLU, Microsoft, and The coalition is calling for the federal government to update laws on government access to email and private files stored by third-party service providers in the cloud -- or any other storage system. Currently, the coalition holds, third-party storage of digital data is a legal gray area, which has allowed the Department of Justice to prevail with the argument that all it needs is a subpoena or court order to obtain customer data from companies. The coalition would like to see clear laws requiring warrants for such requests..."

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announcement: "In a landmark decision issued today in the criminal appeal of U.S. v. Warshak, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the government must have a search warrant before it can secretly seize and search emails stored by email service providers. Closely tracking arguments made by EFF in its amicus brief, the court found that email users have the same reasonable expectation of privacy in their stored email as they do in their phone calls and postal mail.

Today's decision is the only federal appellate decision currently on the books that squarely rules on this critically important privacy issue, an issue made all the more important by the fact that current federal law -- in particular, the Stored Communications Act — allows the government to secretly obtain emails without a warrant in many situations. We hope that this ruling will spur Congress to update that law as EFF and its partners in the Digital Due Process coalition have urged, so that when the government secretly demands someone's email without probable cause, the email provider can confidently say: 'Come back with a warrant'..."

See also: the EFF announcement      [TOC]


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