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Epicentric Announces Release of Web Services User Interface (WSUI) Draft Specification.

A communiqué from Chad Williams (Epicentric, Inc.) announces the release of 'WSUI' as an open standard "for the presentation of Web services as user interface components that can be delivered as Web applications to end users." The WSUI developers "are part of a working group formed to review and comment on the specification; once the specification has been reviewed and commented on by all interested parties, the resulting work will be submitted for standardization." Participation in the working group is welcome. A working draft document "describes the syntax and semantics of Web Service User Interface (WSUI). WSUI is a component model for adding presentation and multistage interaction to XML and SOAP-based network services. It is designed to be lightweight and easily implementable by using standard XML technologies such as XSLT, XPath, and XHTML." Rationale for the design is provided in the specification Introduction: "XML-based network services have become a very popular application integration mechanism. The aggregation and integration of these services at the presentation layer (such as HTML) is increasingly performed by non-technical or semi-technical business users. However, most standards for integrating or consuming XML-based network services are designed for a developer audience and are intended principally for RPC communication between server applications. A number of vendor-specific approaches have emerged to facilitate non-developer integration of network services, particularly to aid in the construction of e-commerce and portal web sites. WSUI is an attempt to standardize this 'last mile' of integration by defining a web component model that couples network services with interaction and presentation information. These components can be dynamically embedded into container applications at run-time by non-developers." WSUI's goal is "to enable a simple mechanism for integrating applications which are remotely exposed as XML and SOAP Web services into a Web site. Simplicity and elegance are the key technical goals, and the specification has been made simple enough that it can pass the 'weekend test' -- a single programmer working for one weekend can create an implementation." Other industry partners participating in the WSUI initiative include Documentum, Intraspect, Jamcracker, NewsEdge, Securant, and Yellowbrix.

From the draft specification: "WSUI consists of these key concepts: (1) Components and containers; (2) Pages and views; (3) Events and interaction flow; (4) Component views using XSLT; (5) Variables and expressions. WSUI defines the concept of a component. A component is a platform-independent web application that can respond to end-user interactions, invoke network services, process the results, and generate end-user display code, such as HTML or WML. WSUI defines the concept of a container. A container is an end-user application, such as a web site or portal, that includes a runtime environment that allows components to be dynamically embedded into the container. Components are defined via an XML format described in this document. Besides the component's XML definition, the only other physical asset of a component are its XSLT stylesheets, which are referenced by URL within the XML definition. The XML definition tells the container what user actions the component can respond to, what network services to invoke, and how to render the end-user display. A container need only know the URL to a component's XML definition to be able to integrate it. While the container may cache the component definition and stylesheets, the canonical definition remains at that URL; when the component's owner modifies the component's XML definition or stylesheets, the component should change on all containers that have integrated that component. WSUI does not define any characteristics of the container outside of those necessary to generate the component output. WSUI places no restrictions on how the component is used within the container. WSUI does not define the placement of the component's display within the container's enclosing display, if any."

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