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Last modified: April 05, 2000
Extensible Telephony Markup Language (XTML)

[April 04, 2000] The Extensible Telephony Markup Language (XTML) is "an XML-based service description language and associated service execution framework that is designed to provide a unified approach for the delivery of next-generation enhanced telecommunications services." It is formally described in the XML Schema language, and informally in a technical paper from Pactolus Communications Inc., "XTML: Extensible Telephony Markup Language. A Unified Framework for Delivering Next-Generation Enhanced Telecommunications Services." Related research and development is being done in connection with IETF's IPTEL Call Processing Language (CPL), VoiceXML, and Telephony Markup Language (TML)." XTML provides the foundation of the Rapid-FLEX platform, developed by Pactolus Communications.

[Background:] "The telecommunication space provides a challenging problem to solve. Whereas the internet space has benefited from the standardization of a single subscriber interface -- the HTML-based browser, and a single communication protocol (HTTP) -- standardization at this level is not possible in the telecommunications arena. Telecommunications solutions must allow subscribers to communicate over an ever-expanding variety of physical and network interfaces (landline, cell phone, pager, browser, Palm Pilot, etc). For the foreseeable future, enhanced services platforms will need to be able to 'speak' a variety protocols and support a burgeoning portfolio of services. In such an environment, open service delivery frameworks are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for success. In addition to openness, these service delivery frameworks must be extensible, in order to support the increasing variety of networks and interfaces required. An open, but static, service description language and delivery framework will never be able to satisfy the market demand, because the capabilities of emerging technologies will quickly outstrip the ability of a static language to describe them. XTML is designed to solve this problem."

XTML is an open, extensible service description language and execution framework that provides a standard way of describing and delivering next-generation, network-based communications services. It provides a standard, XML-based core language that all service developers can use to describe any communication service running over any network. It provides the open extensibility features required that allow vendors or groups to extend the language to describe the capabilities of new technologies, protocols or interfaces in agreed-upon ways. These innovations can then be deployed on any application server that conforms to the XTML interface specification. The goal of XTML is to define an open, unified, and extensible enhanced services architecture that can be broadly adopted by vendors in the enhanced services market, thereby accelerating market growth and delivering significantly increased value to service providers: (1) With XTML, service providers are not locked into a single-vendor solution. With an open XTML standard, a service provider could buy an XTML application server from one vendor, enhanced service applications from a second vendor, and an XTML development environment from a third. (2) With XTML, solution providers have a much larger market to sell to. A solution provider that develops a compelling new application can deliver it to a broader market of open platforms rather than to a single, proprietary platform. Similarly, a solution provider that develops an XTML server extension can deliver it to any conforming XTML application server. In short, XTML is designed to bring the power of Internet-style market forces to the enhanced telecommunications market. The standardization of a common service description and delivery framework that can meet all needs and support product innovation will revolutionize the enhanced services market and push it to the next stage of growth..."

"The XTML language specification consists of a base schema plus any number of extension schemas. The XTML base schema focuses on the service-independent aspects of the language-constructs such as services, sessions, variables, functions, events, and transitions. These constructs will be a part of every service, because they are the fundamental building actions that are required to describe any finite state machine. Since they are service-independent, they are therefore relatively static."

XTML "explicitly recognizes the need to define a core language, while allowing informal 'dialects' or extensions to be dynamically defined in response to the changing problem domain. It clearly defines and separates the aspects of service description that are relatively static and common to all network-based personal communication services, from the more dynamic aspects that correspond to specific technologies, protocols, or application domains. It allows third parties to fundamentally extend the dynamic aspects of the language, while ensuring that these extensions are fully described and can be implemented on any open XTML server. XTML therefore addresses the service provider challenge in a way that VoiceXML and CPL can not: (1) it supports the full range of services that providers wish to offer, (2) it enables service providers a choice of open service delivery platforms, and (3) it can be easily extended to provide new features and leverage new technologies and market opportunities."

The Rapid-FLEX product from Pactolus Communications implements XTML. Rapid-FLEX is a "complete solution specifically designed to provide a carrier-class platform for creating and delivering enhanced services over any next-generation communication network. The Rapid-FLEX platform includes a high performance application server, a graphical service creation environment (SCE), an integrated web server and an IP Media Server. Rapid-FLEX also features web-based conference calling, prepaid, calling card and click-to-talk applications. Rapid-FLEX combines everything you need for creating new services, adding subscribers and generating revenues into a single solution. The foundation of the Rapid-FLEX platform is XTML: eXtensible Telephony Markup Language. XTML is the first XML-based, open, extensible, unified framework for creating and delivering enhanced communication services over any next-generation network using any protocol or API (SIP, MGCP, H.323, Parlay, etc). XTML unlocks the power of Internet-style service creation tools for next-generation service providers, enabling them to quickly develop and deploy value-added business-to-business and residential services that subscribers can customize to meet their specific needs using the web."


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