XML and Web Services In The News - 23 February 2006

Cutting Edge: NOAA builds AJAX-based Data Viewer
Joab Jackson, Government Computer News
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory has released a browser-based application called the Dapper Data Viewer for viewing oceanographic and atmospheric data. DChart, as it is also known, enjoys a particularly rich feature-set, thanks to the use of an emerging Web application technology called Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX). Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) developer Joe Sirott created DChart with help of other staffers so users could visualize in-situ oceanographic or atmospheric data, a particularly challenging type of data to render in graphical format. The software was first released in December; an updated version was released last month. A technology generating buzz in the Web application development community, AJAX allows developers to build Web applications that enjoy at least some of the functionality usually found only in desktop programs. Although Sirott has learned about some of the limits of AJAX, the approach nonetheless provided the needed functionality for the complex requirements of DChart.

Former Mass. CIO Advises Partnering on ODF Projects
Carol Sliwa, ComputerWorld
Citing his experiences as the CIO for the state of Massachusetts, Peter Quinn encouraged would-be adopters of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) to seek out partners willing to put "skin in the game." Quinn, who left the CIO post last month, was the keynote speaker here at a workshop Friday on the use of the XML-based ODF in government. Quinn had spearheaded the state IT Division's controversial initiative to save government documents using ODF, a standard that was approved last May by OASIS. Quinn suggested that Engelbach [Systems Safety Manager, Virginia Beach-based Kalman & Co.] reach out to the speakers at the event, which included officials from IBM and Sun as well as the founder of the recently incorporated Open Document Foundation, a nonprofit focused on improving and enabling ODF. The event speakers were hard-pressed to offer examples of ODF implementations outside of the state of Massachusetts. Quinn also mentioned that the Massachusetts IT Division got a lift when the Library of Congress stated that documents should be saved in open formats. The Open Document Fellowship, a volunteer organization formed in September to promote the use and development of the ODF, co-produced Friday's workshop with Southern California Linux Expo Inc.
See also: OASIS OpenDocument TC

OpenFormula Format for Office Applications (OpenFormula)
David A. Wheeler (ed), Contribution to OASIS OpenDocument Formula SC
OpenFormula is an open format for exchanging recalculated formulas between office application implementations, particularly for spreadsheets. OpenFormula defines the types, syntax, and semantics for calculated formulas, including many predefined functions and operations, so that formulas can be exchanged between applications and produce substantively equal outputs when recalculated with equal inputs. Both closed and open source software can implement OpenFormula. OpenFormula is intended to be a supporting document to the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) format, particularly for defining its attributes table:formula and text:formula. It can be used in other circumstances where a simple, easy-to-read infix notation is desired for exchanging recalculated formulas.
See also: the SC

Web Services Standards Investigated
Jason Stamper, Computer Business Review Online
The important standards groups and industry consortia in [the Web Services] area are the W3C, OASIS, the WS-I and the OMG. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded in October 1994, largely on the initiative of Tim Berners-Lee, the so-called inventor of the Web. Important standards shepherded by the W3C include HTTP, SOAP and XML. The Web Services Interoperability Organisation (WS-I) says its key deliverables include Profiles, Sample Applications and Testing Tools. Profiles, for example, provide implementation guidelines for how related web services specifications should be used together for best interoperability. To date, WS-I has finalised the Basic Profile, Attachments Profile and Simple SOAP Binding Profile. Work on a Basic Security Profile is underway too. OASIS, meanwhile, says that "the work of OASIS complements that of standards bodies, focusing on making these standards easy to adopt, and the products practical to use in real-world, open system applications."

U.S. Grants Patent for Broad Range of Internet Rich Applications
Eric Chabrow, InformationWeek
A patent issued on Valentine's Day covers all rich-media technology implementations, including Flash, Flex, Java, Ajax, and XAML, when the rich-media application is accessed on any device over the Internet, including desktops, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and video game consoles, says inventor Neil Balthaser. Potentially tens of thousands of businesses — not only software makers employing its business processes but companies offering rich-media on their Websites — could be subject to licensing fees when they use rich-media technology over the Internet. According to the Abstract for patent 7,000,180: "Rich-media applications are designed and created via the Internet. A host computer system, containing processes for creating rich-media applications, is accessed from a remote user computer system via an Internet connection. User account information and rich-media component specifications are uploaded via the established Internet connection for a specific user account. Rich-media applications are created, deleted, or modified in a user account via the established Internet connection. Rich-media components are added to, modified in, or deleted from scenes of a rich-media application based on information contained in user requests. After creation, the rich-media application is viewed or saved on the host computer system, or downloaded to the user computer system via the established Internet connection..."
See also: patent crisis

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