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XML (Extensible Markup Language)

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a subset of SGML designed for delivery on the web. At present the standard is being developed under the auspices of the W3C Consortium. The activities are controlled through a wide variety of working groups within the W3C whose site includes details of current activities, discussion groups, links to developer mailing lists, status of recommendations, drafts and final recommendations (Note: the W3C issues"Recommendations" rather than "Standards".)

URL: http://www.w3.org/XML/Activity

The range of information and resources related XML has expanded considerably, and continues to do so. In an attempt to keep our coverage brief we have published below edited news items and resources that have been generated through the El.pub Weekly news service. Due to the speed of developments in this area, resources featured on the page have the tendency to "age" fairly rapidly. Readers are therefore advised to consult more widely concerning the subject of XML.

Applications of XML and XML specifications

Resource Directory Description Language (RDDL)

URL: http://www.openhealth.org/RDDL/

XML business framework

The United Nations body for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) have joined forces to initiate a worldwide project to standardize XML business specifications. UN/CEFACT and OASIS have established the Electronic Business XML Working Group to develop a technical framework that will enable XML to be utilized in a consistent manner for the exchange of all electronic business data.

URL: UN/CEFACT http://www.unece.org/cefact/
URL: OASIS http://www.oasis-open.org/
URL: XML.org http://www.xml.org/

Namespaces in XML

The "Namespaces in XML" specification is a W3C Recommendation. Teaming up with XML, the specification allows authors to mix two or more XML-based languages in one document without conflict or ambiguity, thus promoting the modular development and reuse of XML languages and applications. The specification resolves potential name clashes by using the Web addressing infrastructure. Each element name in a document may be prefixed with a unique address, thus precisely qualifying the name. The specification paves the way for future developments in W3C's XML Schema Working Group, and data exchange based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF) architecture.

URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-xml-names-19990114/

XML Namespaces explained

In recognition of the amount of confusion generated on the XML developers list concerning the XML Namespaces Recommendation, a document has been written which attempts to clarify the explanation in the official Recommendation.

URL: http://www.jclark.com/xml/xmlns.htm

"Namespace Myths Exploded" explains eleven misconceptions about XML namespaces, thereby removing many of the blocks that causes "namespace confusion".

URL: http://xml.com/pub/2000/03/08/

"XML namespaces FAQ", available online, discusses subjects such as how namespaces are used when combining two documents, how to write documents that are both valid and namespace-compliant, and how to write namespace-aware SAX and DOM applications.

URL: http://www.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/DVS1/staff/bourret/xml/NamespacesFAQ.htm

XLink and XML Base drafts

The W3C XML Linking Working Group publish details of XLink which allows elements to be inserted into XML documents in order to create and describe links between resources. It uses XML syntax to create structures that can describe the simple unidirectional hyperlinks of today's HTML as well as more sophisticated links.

XBase, is a syntax for providing the equivalent of HTML BASE functionality generically in XML documents by defining an XML attribute named xml:base.

URL: XLink http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-xlink-19991220/
URL: XBase http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-xmlbase-19991220

XLink explained

XML.com has published a number of articles on XLink, the W3C's XML Linking language for describing links between resources in XML:

URL: http://xml.com/pub/2000/09/xlink/index.html?wwwrrr_20000918.txt
URL: http://xml.com/pub/2000/09/xlink/part2.html?wwwrrr_20000918.txt

XML XPointer

This document presents requirements for the XPointer language. XPointer provides ways to directly identify any node, data, or selection in any XML document by describing its structure and context. An identified data location is called a "target". The XPointer specification is particularly meant to enable hyperlinks to identify any such data, regardless of whether there is (or even could be) an ID on the target or not. The XPointer specification is developed in the XML-Linking Working Group, building on Working Drafts developed in the XML Working Group.

URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-xptr-req

eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL)

The XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) Project Committee is a coalition of more than 30 US finance, accounting, software and government organisations, which is promoting the use of XML-based, XBRL, for the exchange of financial statements. It is hoped, by its supporters, that XBRL, (previously called XFRML), will provide the users of financial statements with a "new, free XML-based standard for preparing, formatting, distributing and analysing financial reports".

URL: http://www.XBRL.org/

adXML (XML for online advertising)

adXML.org is an international consortium of commercial companies which is aiming to define an advertising XML schema for both on-line and off-line media. The site includes details of the adXML formats being developed, and a resources page includes links to standards and XML-based activities in related sectors.

URL: http://www.adXML.org/

SyncML Initiative

IBM, Lotus, Motorola, Nokia, Palm,, Psion and Starfish Software founded the SyncML Initiative to "develop and promote an open industry specification for universal data synchronization of remote data and personal information across multiple networks, platforms and devices". The founders of the initiative hope that SyncML will act as an XML-based data synchronisation protocol accross multiple applications including e-mail, calendar, contact management information, enterprise data stored in databases, web-based documents.

The SyncML Initiative is encouraging other companies to join to help in developing the specification, which the founders are hoping will find equal application in products ranging from web servers and laptops to PDAs and mobile phones.

The SyncML initiative has launched a number of documents designed to accelerate the development of this specification aimed at data synchronisation. A SyncML Architecture white paper has been published in the "Supporter Area" of the SyncML web site and contains a technical overview of the SyncML structural design. The white paper provides an insight into SyncML for supporting companies interested in developing SyncML-compliant client or server implementations.

URL: SyncML organization http://www.syncml.org/

Directories and XML

There appears to be confusion amongst the XML development community concerning the relative merits of the Directory Services Markup Language (DSML) and Novell's DirXML proposal. Details of both proposals are available on the web. A number of vendors have established the Directory Interoperability Forum with the intention, to speed development and deployment of directory-enabled applications that run across different computing environments. The member companies will work closely with industry associations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), The Open Group and the DMTF to speed enhancement and adoption of directory standards.

URL: DirXML http://www.novell.com/products/nds/dirxmlfaq.html
URL: DSML http://www.dsml.org
URL: Directory Interoperability Forum http://www.directoryforum.org

Directory Services Markup Language (DSML)

US company, Bowstreet submitted the Directory Services Markup Language (DSML) specification to OASIS, W3C and BizTalk in the hope that it will be adopted as a "standard directory infrastructure for e-commerce applications". DSML "is supported by the collective efforts of IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and the Sun-Netscape Alliance". The DSML specification enables different vendors' directory services to work together through the use of XML. For more information on DSML 1.0 and the companies that support it, visit the web site below.

URL: DSML http://www.dsml.org/
URL: W3C http://www.w3c.org/

Common Warehouse Metadata InterchangeSpecification (CWMI)

A number of leading IT companies including Oracle, Unisys, IBM, Hyperion and NCR submitted the common warehouse metadata interchange (CWMI) specification to the Object Management Group (OMG) as a potential standard. The specification aims to provide "a common format for enterprise systems to exchange data". Focusing on the interchange of metadata, CMWI will be aimed at applications that are broadly classified under the heading of data warehousing and knowledge management. Microsoft is noticeably absent as a sponsor of the initiative.

URL: Hyperion http://www.hyperion.com/
URL: NCR http://www.ncr.com/
URL: Unisys http://www.unisys.com/
URL: Oracle http://www.oracle.com/


An announcement made on the XML developers mailing list notes that the XML-DBMS software has been ported to PERL. Available on the XML-DBMS web site, the software acts as "middleware for transferring data between XML documents and relational databases".

URL: http://www.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/DVS1/staff/bourret/xmldbms/xmldbms.htm


XML-RPC is a simple protocol for exchanging XML data between programs via HTTP. XML.com features a report by it's developer Dave Winer of Userland Software, the makers of the Frontier content management system. Related to this, is an article which looks at the whole area of backend systems sharing data, considering XML-RPC and other technologies, such as CORBA, DCOM that also provide such interoperability.

Ron Bourret, a member of the XML developers list, has written an article about XML and databases which covers why you might want to use a database with XML, what are some of the technical issues involved and how available middleware transfers XML documents to/from databases.

URL: http://xml.com/pub/1999/08/rpc/index.html?wwwrrr_19990811.txt
URL: XML and databases article http://www.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/DVS1/staff/bourret/xml/XMLAndDatabases.htm

Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)

A feature published by the XML.com web site, presents a technical introduction to the SOAP protocol - a protocol for remote procedure calls over the web. Development of SOAP specification falls under the remit of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) - details of the current SOAP specification is available online.

URL: article http://xml.com/pub/2000/02/09/feature/index.html?wwwrrr_20000209.txt
URL: SOAP spec. http://msdn.microsoft.com/xml/general/soapspec-v1.asp

SOAP and object computing

The ObjectWatch Newsletter Number 25 (March 6, 2000), which is available on the web and also as an e-zine, includes a feature article on SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) which it states is "the most promising protocol for a component interoperability". The article positions the SOAP protocol in relation to object standards such as DCOM from the Microsoft world, IIOP from the CORBA world, and RMI/IIOP from the Java world.

URL: http://www.objectwatch.com/issue_25.htm

SOAP protocol resources


NewsML, being developed by The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), is an XML-based standard to represent and manage news through its life-cycle, including production, interchange and consumer use. It is intended that this framework standard will build on the intellectual property invested in existing IPTC standards such as the Information Interchange Model (IIM), News Industry Text Format (NITF) and the IPTC's widely used Subject Classification Standard. Using Extensible Markup Language (XML), it is intended that NewsML will draw appropriately on existing and emerging W3C recommendations.

IPTC was established in 1965 to safeguard the telecommunications interests of the world's press. Since the late 1970's its activities have primarily focussed on developing and publishing industry standards for the interchange of news data. At present the IPTC membership is drawn mainly from the major news agencies around the globe but it also has a strong representation from newspaper publishers as well as system vendors. Membership of IPTC is open to organisations and companies concerned with news collection, distribution and publishing.

URL: IPTC http://www.iptc.org/
URL: IPTC2000 and NewsML http://www.iptc.org/newsml.htm

News Industry Text Format (NITF)

The News Industry Text Format (NITF) is an XML-based DTD designed for the markup and delivery of news content in a variety of ways, including print, wireless devices and the web. It was developed by the IPTC and the Newspaper Association of America.

NITF was first released in spring 1999, with a number of improvements being made since then. Both the NITF and, the related, NewsML (News Markup Language), wrapper can be stand alone but may also be used in a complimentary manner as NITF objects can be moved within and managed by NewsML in a multimedia environment.

URL: http://www.nitf.org/

Reuters - XML for news

The Reuters Internet Delivery System (IDS) enables Reuters to deliver its news content in Extensible Markup Language (XML). Text news as well as photos and video files can be delivered either as independent media streams or as linked multimedia news packages. Web publishers can choose to display the content using their own XML style sheets or they can use a display template supplied by Reuters. IDS will be used as the principal delivery mechanism for Reuters growing range of Online Report services. IDS utilises a Reuters prototype NewsML DTD (Document Type Definition).

URL: http://www.reuters.com/

Business application XML DTDs

The Open Applications Group (OAGI), a non-profit industry consortium, have published a number of Extensible Markup Language (XML) Document Type Definitions (DTDs) that "define interoperability APIs for Financials, Human Resources, Manufacturing, Logistics, and Supply Chain components". OAGI Members have built a common model for business software application component interoperability over the last three years. The model is described in their Open Applications Group Integration Specification (OAGIS) which has now been expressed in the form of XML DTDs. The DTDs will be free of charge to download and use, but a license agreement will be enacted to maintain ownership of intellectual property.

URL: http://www.openapplications.org

Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language (tpaML)

IBM has developed a specification for defining and implementing electronic contracts. Based on XML, The Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language (tpaML) enables companies to automate business-to-business (B2B) transactions, by defining how trading partners interact.

URL: http://www.ibm.com/software/developer/library/tpaml.html

Financial Products Markup Language (FpML)

JP Morgan and PricewaterhouseCoopers have proposed FpML (Financial Products Markup Language) for Internet-based electronic dealing and information sharing of financial derivatives, initially handling interest rate and foreign exchange products. The companies are that their specification will become a standard in e-commerce systems. Details including drafts of the specification are available via the web site below.

URL: FpML http://www.fpml.org

XForms Data Model

The W3C is developing an XForms Data Model, which is described as "the next generation of web forms which will separate purpose from presentation". The W3C HTML Working Group has a charter to develop a form architecture that provides a better match to workflow and database applications, to the proliferation of new Web-enabled devices, and to the XML-driven web. The XForms Subgroup has produced a forms architecture that separates data modeling, logic, and presentation. The XForms Data Model has emerged as the first in a series of XForms specifications.

URL: XForms http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/Forms/
URL: W3C http://www.w3c.org/

Extensible Forms Description Language (XFDL)

UWI.Com have submitted Extensible Forms Description Language (XFDL), for describing business forms on the Web to the W3C. The company publishes a periodic newsletter which covers developments in the Internet forms area.

URL: XFDL http://www.uwi.com/xfdl/
URL: electronic signature http://www.uwi.com/news/981109.htm
URL: reports http://www.uwi.com/market/reports.htm

XML Forms Architecture (XFA)

JetForm, a developer of electronic form software, have developed "XML Forms Architecture" (XFA), a form architecture based on the XML standard, which they too have submitted to the W3C for consideration as a recommendation.

URL: XFA http://www.xfa.com
URL: JetForm http://www.jetform.com

XML in human resources

AppliedTheory Communications has teamed-up with Job Bank Service Center in the US to create standard human resource/electronic recruiting XML definitions. The resultant DTDs will be promoted for use within the human resource sector. An email discussion list has been started, subscribe at the web site.

URL: http://www.xml-hr.org
URL: AppliedTheory http://www.appliedtheory.com
URL: Job Bank Service Center http://www.ajb.dni.us

XML and international development

A meeting held under the auspices of the International Institute for Communication and Development considered the potential of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) for improved information sharing in the international development community.

Potential applications of a Development Markup Language (DML), an XML Document Type Definition (DTD) specific to the international development sector, were demonstrated and discussed. Participants shared lessons learned from previous joint standards and information initiatives such as IDRIS, DDBS, INDIX, Dublin Core, CEFDA, and CALS. Plans for several pilot projects emerged from discussions. Notes from the meeting held in Ottawa, Canada, on January 13-14, 1999 are available online along with resources on DML and XML.

URL: http://www.bellanet.org/xml

Web Interface Definition Language (WIDL)

In a bid to address the problem of direct access to Web data from within business applications, the Web Interface Definition Language (WIDL) is being proposed. It is an application of XML with the aim of: "enabling the automation of all interactions with HTML/XML documents and forms, providing a general method of representing request/response interactions over standard web protocols". The paper: "WIDL: Application Integration with XML" describes the approach.

URL: http://webMethods.com/technology/Automating.html

XML for distributed computing

"XML Enabled Mechanisms for Distributed Computing on the Web" by John Tigue, Software Architect at Data Channel describes how XML could enable: "Web-native distributed computing" assuming an environment with support for only HTTP and XML.

URL: http://xml.datachannel.com/public/presentation/DocumationEast

An article by Tim Bray in Netscape's on-line developer magazine, View Source, entitled: "Beyond HTML: XML and automated Web processing" concentrates on the opportunities to automate processing of Web pages using XML-embedded data.

URL: http://developer.netscape.com/news/viewsource/index.html

XML Schema

XML Schema specification

There is a W3C Working Group developing the specifications for XML Schema. The latest information concerning development of the W3C Recommendation is available from the Consortium's web site.

URL: http://www.w3.org/

Understanding XML Schemas

XML.com has published an article which consider the development of XML schemata. "Understanding XML Schemas" reviews schemas (sic) and the new features described in the W3C working draft. There is also a presentation explaining schemata on the web.

Who is in control of XML? is the question posed by a group of articles in XML.com, which review the subject of schema repositories, examining Microsoft's BizTalk.org and OASIS's XML.org. From this, the commentators discuss the commercial significance of the race to build a dominant information model within which e-commerce will function.

URL: http://xml.com/xml/pub/1999/07/schemas/index.html?wwwrrr_990701.txt
URL: schemata presentation http://www.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/DVS1/staff/bourret/bourret.htm
URL: Schema Repositories: What's at Stake? http://xml.com/pub/2000/01/26/feature/index.html?wwwrrr_20000126.txt

XML schema in use

A note to the XML developers list from Robin Cover (who provides excellent reviews of XML developments on the OASIS web site) addresses concerns from developers regarding the usability of W3C's 'XML Schema' formalism:

"Does it attempt too much? Is the spec hard to understand? Is the notation excessively verbose?, etc. Despite these doubts, the WD specification seems to make sense to a growing number of developers.  I note (anecdotally) that W3C XML Schema (.xsd) is used as the principal meta-level specification in two important projects, announced recently: 'DIG35: Metadata Standard for Digital Images'; 'Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI)'. These are not lightweight or trivial XML applications."

URL: DIG35: Metadata Standard for Digital Images http://www.oasis-open.org/cover/dig35.html
URL: Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) http://www.oasis-open.org/cover/uddi.html
URL: XML Schema http://www.w3.org/TR/xmlschema-1/

XML schema registry

OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), the international consortium dedicated to promoting stuctured information standards (including XML, SGML and CGM) provides an online registry for XML schemas on its XML.org web site. The registry application has been developed by Documentum and Sun Microsystems. Documentum's 4i eBusiness Edition powers the entire process from schema submission, through approval, to its public availability on the web site.

The XML.org web site provides a vendor-neutral community for advancing XML industry standardisation, providing news and information about the application of XML in electronic business environments.

URL: XML schema registry http://xml.org/registry/
URL: OASIS http://www.oasis-open.org/
URL: XML.org http://xml.org/
URL: Documentum http://www.documentum.com/

XML Schema best practices

Roger L. Costello has summarised the "XML Schemas: Best Practices" discussions emanating from the XML developers mailing list and published them on the web at the address below.

URL: http://www.xfront.com/BestPractices.html

Document Definition Markup Language (DDML)

A W3C Note proposes Document Definition Markup Language (DDML), as the schema language for XML documents. The note states that: "DDML encodes the logical (as opposed to physical) content of DTDs in an XML document. This allows schema information to be explored and used with widely available XML tools. DDML is deliberately simple, providing an initial base for implementations. While introducing as few complicating factors as possible, DDML has been designed with future extensions, such as data typing and schema reuse, in mind".

URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-ddml

Document Structure Description (DSD)

Document Structure Description (DSD) is being put forward as a way for describing XML documents. This schema language is result of a research collaboration between AT&T Labs, NJ and BRICS at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. The DSD language arose out of a need to describe XML documents to web programmers with an elementary background in computer science. DSDs have also been expressively designed to further W3C sponsored XML technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and XSL Transformations (XSLT). The authors claim that: "DSDs require no specialised XML/SGML insights. The technology is based on general and familiar concepts that allow much stronger document descriptions than possible with DTDs or the current XML Schema proposal". The group is offering:

The developers are encouraging comments and suggestions for further development, for more information visit the DSD web site.

URL: http://www.brics.dk/DSD/


Two developers have defined MusicML specifically for sheet music. Based on XML the authors have also written a MusicML browser in Java to display their efforts. Their goal was not to define a sheetmusic specific language, but rather to provide an application with which to explore the capabilities and limits of XML. The complete listing of the MusicML DTD, the rationale for it's development along with key findings and examples of code are published.



The Voice eXtensible Markup Language Forum is developing the VoiceXML specification, an XML-based markup language that is aimed at enabling voice access to web content and services. AT&T, Lucent and Motorola have contributed their respective phone and voice markup languages to help the Forum create a specification "leveraging the best of these technologies". Whilst IBM is included in the list of companies involved, contributing its Speech Markup Language technology (see items below). The VoiceXML specification provides a high-level programming interface to speech and telephony resources for application developers, service providers and equipment manufacturers. The latest version of the specification is available for review via the Forum's web site.

URL: http://www.voicexml.org/

Voice XML explained

IBM developerWorks has an article on Voice XML.

URL: http://www-4.ibm.com/software/developer/library/cl-voiceact.html?open&l=136,t=gr,p=x.vWeb

Speech Markup Language (SML)

IBM is developing the use of XML to define a new Speech Markup Language that will deliver speech capabilities to web browsers. SpeechML is available for download and is being incorporated into the VoiceXML specification (see above).

URL: http://www.ibm.com/alphaworks/tech/sml/

Voice Markup Language (VoxML)

The intention of the VoxML markup language for voice applications is to enable developers to add speech interfaces to web applications or content. The VoxML language is an application of XML. In essence VoxML applications are written in the form of dialogues - allowing users to interact naturally with the application. These dialogues are interpreted by voice browsers in much the same way as HTML pages are interpreted by today's web browsers. The intention is to enable users to connect with web content from telephones and voice-enabled devices. More detailed information concerning the VoxML language is available on the VoxML web site.

URL: http://www.voxml.com/

Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML 1.0)

The World Wide Web Consortium has released XHTML 1.0, HTML 4.0 recast as an XML application, as a Recommendation. XHTML is also being developed to for use on mobile devices. Further information concerning XHTML and associated standardisation activities are available from the link below.

URL: XHTML 1.0 http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/

XHTML resources

The Mozquito Project was formed to support web authors working with the XHTML standard. The project runs a mailing list, providing the latest news on the project and its XHTML authoring environment, moderated by members of Stack Overflow AG, a member of the W3C. To subscribe to the mailing list, send a message to the address below and insert SUBSCRIBE MISC firstname lastname in the body of the message.

URL: mailto:majordomo@mozquito.org
URL: http://www.mozquito.org

XHTML discussion group

A mailing list dedicated to discussing XHTML, is aimed at webmasters, software developers, and anyone who might be interested in XHTML. To subscribe, send an email to the address below or visit the site.

URL: mailto:XHTML-L-subscribe@egroups.com
URL: http://www.egroups.com/group/XHTML-L

XML-based workflow standards

The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) has launched an initiative to provide XML-based workflow standards. The WfMC initiative brought together the work originated in the OMG (Object Management Group) jointFlow submission and the initial proposals from the IETF sponsored SWAP (Simple Workflow Access Protocol) group. Wf-XML is an XML-based variant of the WfMC Interoperability Interface which can work with HTTP or a number of other transport mechanisms, including email and direct TCP/IP connection, or MOM (Message Oriented Middleware). The intention of the work is to create a complete XML-based specification for all workflow functions.

URL: http://www.wfmc.org

LMML-CS 1.0 announcement

We have received an email request to inform readers of El.pub of The Learning Material Markup Language (LMML), an implementation of the XML binding of the teachware-specific meta-model described in Christian Suess's, "A Meta-Modeling Adaptive Knowledge Management: Approach and its Binding to XML, 2000".

URL: http://daisy.fmi.uni-passau.de/db/literatur.php3?key=S00

As an instance of this framework you can find, at the URL below, the Learning Material Markup Language for Computer Science (LMML-CS), a language for specifying teachware from the domain of application of teaching and learning computer science as described in Christian S, Burkhard Freitag, Peter Brssler, "Metamodeling for Web-Based Teachware Management, 1999".

URL: http://daisy.fmi.uni-passau.de/db/literatur.php3?key=SFB99

URL: LMML http://daisy.fmi.uni-passau.de/pakmas/lmml/

Style sheet languages

XSL: the eXtensible Stylesheet Language

XSL is a proposal to the W3C to provide style sheet information for eXtensible markup language (XML) data. XSL extends beyond Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), enabling developers to handle the full richness of XML data and documents.

CSS (see below) can remain the style sheet language of choice for HTML and simply structured XML documents. Whilst XSL could be used for formatting highly structured XML data, especially where the data's presentation order may change between delivery and display. For example, a table of stocks, stock prices and trading information might be sent to a browser using XML. Using an XML-enabled browser users could sort, filter and display the stock information based on their own preferences.

XSL joins Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the other W3C-developed style sheet language implemented in current popular browsers, as part of the W3C Style Sheets Activity. W3C will be developing both the XSL and CSS style sheet languages in parallel. CSS is used to style HTML and XML documents on the Web. In addition to styling XML documents, XSL is also be able to generate new XML documents from XML data.

URL: http://www.w3.org/Style/XSL

XSL exposed

The XML.com website focused on whether there was a need for the style language XSL, by asking questions such as: How necessary is XSL? Is it just too complicated? Is it really an improvement over what we have today? Might XSL even be considered harmful to the Web?

An article, entitled: "XSL Considered Harmful" provided a controversial view, although the sentiments expressed have a resonance with many in the XML developer community. An online debate was held, and is summarised, at the site based on issues raised in the article. The site also features links to previous coverage of XSL including a tutorial which introduces the technology.

URL: XSL Considered Harmful http://xml.com/xml/pub/1999/05/xsl/xslconsidered_1.html?wwwrrr_990520.txt
URL: XSL Considered Harmful, Part 2 http://xml.com/xml/pub/1999/05/xsl/XSLCompare.html?wwwrrr_990520.txt
URL: XML.com http://xml.com/

Extensible stylesheet technology

XML.com has published a comprehensive introduction to the W3C's extensible stylesheet technology. XSLT expert G. Ken Holman takes readers through XSLT's place in the world of XML standards, as well as XSLT's practical application.

XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) is a technology which lets developers transform information marked up in XML from one vocabulary to another, providing a flexible solution for XML document manipulation.

URL: http://www.xml.com/pub/2000/08/holman/

Style sheet language resources

Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 (CSS2)

Cascading Style Sheets, level 2 (CSS2) has been created and developed by the W3C Cascading Style Sheets and Formatting Properties Working Group. CSS2 is a style sheet language for HTML-based documents which builds on the CSS1 specification. CSS2 offers precise control over the presentation of Web pages, adding: improved printing, positioned and layered elements, improved Internationalization, and a rich WebFont model, including downloadable fonts. CSS2 can also control voice, pitch, stereo position and other aspects of how Web pages will sound when rendered to speech.

URL: spec. http://www.w3.org/TR/PR-CSS2
URL: web style sheets http://www.w3.org/Style

CSS2 tutorial

Miloslav Nic of the Department of Organic Chemistry, ICT Praguehas published   the first version of his CSS2 tutorial on the Zvon site. It contains at this moment  around 50 XML sources with around 100 simple stylesheets. The Mozilla browser is required to view the examples, the author is planning support for "other browers (ie. Internet Explorer) when they reasonably support CSS2".

URL: http://zvon.vscht.cz/HTMLonly/CSS2Tutorial/General/book.html
URL: Miloslav Nic mailto:nicmila@vscht.cz

Sources of information on XML


The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) runs a web site called XML.org which will act as an: "open industry XML registry and repository offering automated public access to XML schemas".  OASIS hopes that the registry/repository will play an "enabling role in the use of industry-defined XML applications for electronic commerce, business-to-business transactions, and tools and application interoperability".

XML.org, includes an XML Specifications Catalogue, a comprehensive list of XML specifications currently under development including links for more information. There is also a specification submission form on the site, to encourage and enable organisations to share their XML specifications with the community at large.

URL: XML.org http://xml.org
URL: XML Specifications Catalogue http://www.xml.org/xmlorg_catalog.htm
URL: OASIS http://www.oasis-open.org

XML technical overview

Anders Moeller and Michael I. Schwartzbach of the BRICS research center, University of Aarhus, Denmark have sent a note inviting readers of El.pub to view their "comprehensive slide collection providing an introduction and technical overview of XML and related technologies". The tutorial gives a thorough tour of:

Furthermore, the tutorial contains selected links for more information about each topic. The slides are designed with concrete motivation and technical contents in focus, for the reader who wishes to understand and actually use these technologies.

URL: http://www.brics.dk/~amoeller/XML/

XML for software engineering

XML4SE is a web site dedicated to XML applications in Software Engineering that presents documents and links on XML projects related to software development activity. In particular, meta-languages that catch core information of code or models are recorded (eg. JavaML, OOPML, XMI, UXF).

A mailing list is also available, to subscribe send a message to the address below.

URL: http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/labs/gelo/xml4se/
URL: mailing list mailto:xml4se-announce-suscribe@egroups.com

Syndication - XML's role

XML.com has published a Special Issue which focuses on the role of XML in syndication. XML's advantages in this area have been quickly recognised, and syndication boasts some of the most mature XML applications to date.

URL: http://xml.com/pub/2000/07/17/
URL: XML news page http://xml.com/pub/coverpage/newspage.html

World's literature in XML

The HTML Writers Guild is a not-for-profit, 125,000 strong international educational organisation of HTML authors. Project Gutenberg is an organisation founded by Michael Hart in 1971 to record the worlds great literature as ASCII text. To date almost 10,000 volumes have been marked up.

"Gutenberg at HWG" is a joint initiative of these organisations to convert the ASCII texts to XML. The project is currently carrying out a "proof of concept" trial, involving the mark-up of about 30 books, with a further 50 or so in the pipeline. The project is looking for people to take an active role in helping it develop suitable DTDs, and to contribute their expertise, especially individuals who would be interested in supervising XML markup in languages other than English, and in non-roman character sets.

Frank Boumphrey, Director Gutenberg@HWG is interested to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved with the project. The project operates two mailing lists, subscribe at the site below, which cover general: discussions of markup; and the design of suitable DTD's for marking up historical documents.

URL: http://www.hwg.org/opcenter/gutenberg/
URL: trial documents http://www.hwg.org/opcenter/gutenberg/checkdoc.html
URL: mailing lists http://www.hwg.org/lists/
URL: Frank Boumphrey mailto:frank@hwg.org

XML and e-commerce


There is considerable interest in the potential utility of XML in the area of e-commerce, the majority of whose transactions could ignore traditional EDI mechanisms altogether. The EDI/XML Group are working on ways to develop a framework to enable EDI applications based on XML. The role for XML in E-commerce is covered on the E-commerce topic page on this site.

The Apache XML Project

The Apache XML Project is an open source software development initiative, building developer tools that make the adoption of XML an easier process for information architects, web designers, and application providers. The project has received quite a boost from the commercial vendors in the space, through the provision of software source code from both IBM and Sun. The stated aims of the project are to:

The intention of the project is to operate as a meritocracy, developing software based on the open source "model". To get involved join the mailing lists on the project web site.

URL: http://xml.apache.org
URL: commentary on project, at XML.com http://xml.com/pub/1999/11/apache/index.html?wwwrrr_19991110.txt

Websites using XML

Weave is a site devoted to publicising sites and documents created in XML. Web sites built using XML can be added to the directory on the Weave site.

URL: http://worldwideweave.com

Kweelt: querying XML

Kweelt is a Java framework to query XML data. Among other things, it offers an evaluation engine for the Quilt XML query language. This is the first implementation of a query language for XML that answers all the use-cases published by W3C for the XML query requirements. Kweelt is not just an implementation of a query language. It has been designed as a reference platform to make all sort experiments related to XML: storage, optimization, benchmarking, document output, etc. The software is free and open-source (GNU GPL license) to allow people to make more radical changes to the framework itself. For more information and to download the binaries and source, go to the Kweelt page below.

URL: Kweelt http://db.cis.upenn.edu/Kweelt/
URL: project development http://sourceforge.net/projects/kweelt

XML Update Language

The Infozone-Group has initiated a new project called Lexus, aiming to specify "an open standard for an XML Update Language". The group believe that in their opinion, "there is the real need for this specification, because all available implementations of query languages and whitepapers about 'Query Requirements' don't speak about updating XML data sets via an API".

They are looking for interested people to participate in the development, further details from the project web site.

URL: http://www.infozone-group.org/projects_main.html

XMLPatterns.com launched

XMLPatterns.com has announced the public launch of its web site. The site is dedicated to XML structural patterns which "describe known solutions to a problem in a particular context". Patterns have been used successfully in the past by the object oriented software community. These patterns are similar, but deal with designing XML documents.

URL: http://www.xmlpatterns.com/

Java API for XML Parsing

The Sun Java API for XML Parsing (JAXP) Optional Package provides basic functionality for reading, manipulating, and generating XML documents through pure Java APIs. It is a thin and lightweight API that provides a standard way to seamlessly integrate any XML-compliant parser with a Java application. Depending on the needs of the application, developers have the flexibility to swap between XML parsers (such as high performance vs.memory conservative parsers) without making application code changes. Thus, application and tools developers can XML-enable Java applications "for e-commerce, application integration, and dynamic web publishing".

The reference implementation uses the Java Project X as its default XML parser. However, the software's pluggable architecture allows any XML conformant parser to be used.

URL: http://java.sun.com/xml/download.html

XML and Python

The Python XML Special Interest Group develop the Python/XML distribution which contains the basic tools required for processing XML data using the Python programming language.  The distribution includes parsers and standard interfaces such as SAX and DOM, along with various other useful modules. The code is being developed bazaar-style by contributors from the Special Interest Group, so please send comments, questions, or bug reports to them.

URL: Python/XML distribution download http://www.python.org/sigs/xml-sig/files/xml-0.5.tgz
URL: Python XML SIG mailing list xml-sig@python.org
URL: Python XML SIG home page: http://www.python.org/sigs/xml-sig/
URL: general information about Python: http://www.python.org

XML and Perl

Perl and XML is a subject that appears high on the information requirements for developers working in the XML sphere. XML.com runs regular columns on the subject. The first in the series: "Simple XML Validation with Perl", considers using Perl to provide lightweight XML document validation.

URL: article http://www.xml.com/pub/2000/11/08/perl/index.html

XML conformance / validation

The OASIS (formerly SGML Open) XML Conformance Subcommittee have a public information page on the web. The page will announce the public availability of the committee's results.  References/hints are published in the "XML Conformance" section of the SGML/XML Web Page.

XML.com published a report on how XML parsers fared against the updated the OASIS test suite. Tests were run against AElfred 2, MSXML3, Oracle's parser, Sun's parser, Xerces-J and XP. Apparently the open source parsers "delivered an excellent showing, leaving Microsoft and Oracle lagging behind".

URL: XML Conformance Subcommittee http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/xmlconf-pub.html
URL: XML Conformance http://www.sil.org/sgml/xml.html#conformance
URL: OASIS home page http://www.oasis-open.org
URL: http://xml.com/pub/2000/05/10/conformance/conformance.html?wwwrrr_20000510.txt

XML validation

There are a number of web sites which provide XML validation tools. The sites below both have XML "well-formedness" checkers and validators available online. The sites also provide links to other XML checkers/validators.

URL: http://www.cogsci.ed.ac.uk/~richard/xml-check.html
URL: http://www.stg.brown.edu/service/xmlvalid/

General resources


XML.com, is a web site developed to: "act as a key resource and nerve center for XML developers and users". The site features a mix of information and services for the XML community and is designed to serve both people who are already working with XML and those HTML users who want to "graduate" to XML. The Cover Pages, edited by Robin Cover, provide an excellent (and up-to-date) archive of news and developments in the XML arena.

URL: http://www.xml.com

Further resources

Articles and papers

XML DevCon 2000 Conference

A list of papers which were presented at the XML DevCon 2000 Conference in the US on June 25-28, 2000. The URLs (noting the authors) below, provide links to slides, and notes:

The XML.com site features a review of the Softquad XML editor, XMetaL. There is also an audio interview (using Real Audio) with Bruce Sharpe, VP of Development at SoftQuad, in which he describes the various levels of customisation that are possible with XMetaL to adapt it to particular DTDs.

URL: XMetaL and Content Creation Tools Interview http://xml.com/pub/1999/07/xmetal/sharpe.html?wwwrrr_990714.txt
URL: XMetaL review http://xml.com/pub/SeyboldReport/ip031101.html?wwwrrr_990714.txt

An excellent article written by Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems and co-editor of the XML specification entitled: XML, Java, and the Future of the Web, describes the XML standard development effort and discusses new kinds of Java-based Web applications made possible by XML. It demonstrates the limitations of following an HTML-based approach in developing distributed document environments, and explains XML's potential in this arena.

URL: http://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/sun-info/standards/xml/why/xmlapps.htm

An article published in the May/June 1998 IEEE Internet Computing Journal entitled: "XML-enabled Tools" gives descriptions of the many varied implementations of the standard along with tabulated comparisons between the various tools. Links to the companies and individuals developing the products are extensive.

URL: http://computer.org/internet/

"Dealing with the Electronic Patient Record Variability: Object Oriented XML", in which the author contends that: "OOXML is a new way to add behaviours to XML documents which is more powerful than using stylesheets and easier to build and maintain than using core Java code". The "Object Oriented XML", that the author proposes, considers each XML Element as an object that comes with its methods, the result being increased utility of XML-based documents.

URL: http://www.digitalairways.com/NiS/ParisXML98/

Article published in the New Scientist, which spotlights Chemical Markup Language (CML) among other markup languages. It highlights the challenge of providing universal semantics and metadata.

URL: http://www.newscientist.com/ns/980530/xml.html

An article on XML and a description of several tools available for use with it has been published by InfoWorld.

URL: http://www.infoworld.com/cgi-bin/displayTC.pl?/980601analysis.htm

A collection of InfoWorld articles on XML.

URL: http://www.infoworld.com/cgi-bin/displayStory.pl?/features/980601xml.htm

Information Week has also posted a few articles about XML.

URL: http://www.techweb.com/se/directlink.cgi?IWK19980525S0041

"XML: a professional alternative to HTML", published in the German language IT magazine: iX, German and English versions have been published.

URL: German http://www.heise.de/ix/artikel/1997/06/106/artikel.html
URL: English http://www.heise.de/ix/artikel/E/1997/06/106/artikel.html

Article in Web Review giving an overview of XML, two interviews, and a list of XML resources.

URL: http://webreview.com/97/05/16/feature/

XML developers mailing lists

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