XML and Web Services In The News - 21 February 2006

Interview: Tim Bray Opens Up About Open Source
Paul Krill, InfoWorld
Tim Bray is director of Web Technologies at Sun Microsystems, but is perhaps best known as a co-inventor of XML. He also has launched one of the first public Web search engines, Open Text Index, and founded Antarctica Systems, specializing in visualization-based business analytics. Additionally, Bray publishes a blog and co-chairs the IETF AtomPub (Atom Publishing Format and Publishing Protocol) Working Group, which is focused on technologies for editing Web resources such as blogs and wikis. Bray, [on the verdict that Web services is so mired in confusion with standards and specifications that people don't know where to start]: "I have a lot of sympathy with that viewpoint. We're not promising to interoperate with whatever the WS-* castle in the sky is, we're promising to interoperate with what Microsoft shipped. And we will do that. And I think IBM will too. So the core big picture vendors will actually interoperate with each other. So the interesting question is, what you raised is, does that change the world? Does everybody sign up for that? Well, I don't know. I tend to be a skeptic. I observe that Amazon.com is doing tens of millions of Web services transactions a day and making money, and generally speaking, ignoring all that WS-* stuff. They are just doing straightforward XML over HTTP, without benefit of WS-*. And I think that that simple model, what we call the REST (Representational State Transfer] model, had a lot of legs and is going to deliver I think a lot of value, both in the Internet space and in the intranet enterprise space.

Sun's Next-Gen Enterprise Java
Sean Michael Kerner, InternetNews.com
Sun Microsystems has released a preview version of its highly anticipated successor to J2EE, called Java EE, as well as previews of its Glassfish-based Java Application Server and a new version of NetBeans. There are two core enhancements in Java EE that are supposed to make enterprise Java development simpler and easier: EJB 3.0 (Enterprise JavaBeans) and JSF 1.2 (Java Server Faces). According to Sun's Drachnik, EJB 3.0 decreases the amount of programming by reducing the amount of artifacts that developers need to provide ,which makes it simpler to develop applications. JSF 1.2 claims to make building AJAX type Web-based apps much more straightforward for developers. As Glassfish is open source and is in a state of near constant evolution Sun has taken milestone 5, as a fixed build of Glassfish to build Sun Application Server 9 version. From an IDE point of view, Sun is releasing a preview of NetBeans 5.5 to help developers take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the new release of Java EE. NetBeans 5.0 was just released a few week ago. NetBeans 5.5 will include UML support for the first time in a NetBeans release.
See also: the PR

GovTrack.us, Public Data, and the Semantic Web
Joshua Tauberer, XML.com
The more knowledge citizens have about government the better. So how can we use XML and the Semantic Web to make it easier to get that knowledge, and to foster civic participation? This is a question I've spent a lot of time on over the past few years while putting together www.GovTrack.us, a site that gathers existing information on the web about the U.S. Congress and puts it all together in new ways, using RSS feeds and Google Maps, for instance. The site is possible because the government has been posting the relevant information online for a while, but in scattered locations. For instance, legislation is posted in one place and votes on the very same legislation in another. Gathering the information in one place and in a common format gives rise to new ways of mixing the information together. Each day GovTrack screen-scrapes these sites to gather the new information. The information gets normalized and goes into XML files so that when GovTrack wants to display the status of a bill to a user, it can just run an XSLT stylesheet on the XML bill file.

Hacking the XML in Your TiVo
Bob DuCharme, XML.com
The TiVo offers various options for finding out the episode titles and plot summaries of what it recorded, so that we can find Simpsons episodes we've never seen and alert our kids to particularly classic Monty Python and I Love Lucy episodes. The simplest way to see what you have is to use your TiVo remote to bring up the Now Playing menu. Things get more interesting when your TiVo — which is ultimately a Linux box with a big hard disk and a timer-triggered channel changer — has a wireless network adapter that connects to your home network. An HTTP server built into the TiVo lets you browse web page versions of TiVo metadata from a browser on the same network, and a RESTful API lets you pull XML versions of the same information. With some short stylesheets and a little help from the free wget utility, I wrote a simple application that puts onto my weblog a "TiVoRoll" of what shows our TiVo's been recording, and another app that gives me an Atom feed showing which episodes have been recorded lately. My application that creates an Atom feed of the Now Playing list of saved episodes is almost identical to the one that creates a TiVoRoll for my weblog. The driver shell script passes a 'Recurse=Yes' version of the URL to wget to get the details about the stored episodes, then calls xsltproc with an XSLT stylesheet that creates an Atom 1.0 file, and it finishes by using an FTP script that puts the result of the XSLT pass into a different directory on the web server; a cron job on my home Linux box runs both scripts before I get up each morning.

RFID: Locked and Loaded for NATO
Renee Boucher Ferguson, eWEEK
In this case study the author reveals that NATO isn't waiting for RFID to catch on; it has already built a global supply chain with the technology. In the Gulf War, the United States wasted $10 billion; U.S.DoD signed a contract with Savi to build out and maintain its ITV (In-Transit Visibility) network, now the world's largest RFID (radio-frequency identification) cargo tracking system, stretching across 46 countries and 2,000 locations. Savi's CMS 1.0 is designed to keep track of and manage consignments tagged with all types of AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Collection) devices — such as sensors, bar codes, and active and passive RFID tags — for allied military organizations. It provides exception-based management alerts and support for visibility of assets. Earlier this year, Savi began upgrading NATO's existing system with a routing code developed in concert with the NATO Asset Tracking Group, a multinational group that sets standards for logistics and supply chain processes. "The way we designed the code is each RFID code has its own ID tag. In the ID header, we put in a unique code, in concert with an ISO standard, so when you write that tag in the supply chain, the owner's routing code is written in as well," said Eric Gill, program manager at Savi. "So when [goods] go by a reader, it doesn't matter whose tag it is — the Savi Reader gets it." The reader sends the tag information to a local site manager through the CMS server. When the server receives the message, the first thing it does is check the routing code. If the routing code belongs to NATO, it accepts the message and sends an XML message to NATO's LOGFAS (Logistic Functional Area Services) system.
See also: PML for RFID

RFID Tweaked for Item-Level Tracking
Michael Kanellos, CNET News.com
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) specialist Impinj has devised a way to make it easier for manufacturers and stores to put RFID tags on shirts, CDs and other consumer items. An RFID tag with one of Impinj's Monza chips measures 9 millimeters across. Item-level tags like this will likely begin to show up in a noticeable way in 2007. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a soft mandate that pharmaceutical manufacturers start placing RFID tags on their products by January 2007 to ensure authenticity. Florida has passed a law requiring tagging on pharmaceuticals in 2007 as well. California is debating a similar law. Retailers are interested in adopting the technology and conducting trials. Tagging individual items could cut down on DVD and CD theft. It could also help stocking at clothing retailers; employees with readers could scan shelves to find items stocked in the wrong place, or shirts picked up by consumers in one part of the store and later shoved onto a random shelf.

Product Review: ShoreTel Lets You Collaborate Right out of the Box
Mike Heck, InfoWorld
With the high costs of travel and time wasted with face-to-face meetings, online collaboration services are flourishing — from the big names such as Microsoft and WebEx to less elaborate solutions that include GoToMeeting and Raindance. What these all have in common are ongoing service costs and often extra layers of integration to worry about, such as third-party instant messaging and audio bridges. Conversely, ShoreTel's Converged Conferencing solution unites audio conferencing, online presentation, Web collaboration, IM, and multimedia recording within a single 1U Conference Bridge appliance. This unit effortlessly connects to a ShoreTel ShoreGear Voice Switch and delivers up to 96 conference ports. One IP phone port supports five conference ports on the bridge. Beyond the benefit of having tightly integrated components, enterprises typically get their investment back in a few months because monthly fees are eliminated.

On XMLish Things: Oxygen
Kurt Cagle, O'Reilly Developer Weblog
My favorite XML editor is becoming scary good. I've been an Oxygen convert for a long time, and every iteration it just seems to get better and better. The Oxygen XML 7.0 Editor has just been released by SyncRO Soft Ltd., and already its reached the stage where I find it very, very difficult to shift back to the older version. Oxygen has been in a continual state of evolution, since I first encountered it as a 3.0 product, and it seems like even minor upgrades brings significant improvements to the application. I spend a significant amount of time writing XSLT scripts, both versions 1 and 2, and Oxygen's XSLT capabilities have long been quite significant. In the most recent incarnation, Oxygen supports .NET 1.0, .NET 2.0, JAXP, MSXML3.0, MSXML4.0, Saxon 6.5.5, Saxon8B, Saxon8SA, Saxon.NET, Xalan and XsltProc. Given that all of these handle at least XSLT 1.0 compliant documents, this reasonably handles all of the production browsers in use. Most of these are included with Oxygen, and consequently you can do such things as test EXSLT extensions. Overall, there are very few complaints that I can make about Oxygen 7. It's powerful, multifaceted, useful for both tabular and text manipulation of XML, works with web services and SOA architectures, and is about as good an XML editor as anything out there. Even the price is reasonable...

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