XML and Web Services In The News - 14 March 2006

Provided by OASIS | Edited by Robin Cover

This issue of XML.org Daily Newslink is sponsored by Innodata Isogen


 Pi-calculus and CDL: A Conversation with Steve Ross-Talbot
 Modeling Web Services Choreography: BPMN and New Eclipse Tool pi4soa
 Liberty Alliance Helps Fuel Use of Identity Specs
 RDF/A Primer 1.0: Embedding RDF in XHTML
 Adobe Builds Bridge to Ajax
 Launch of XBRL Service by UK's HM Revenue and Customs
 Opera Basks in Mini Browser Market Push
 Complex Data Transformation

A Conversation with Steve Ross-Talbot
Stephen Sparkes (interviewer), ACM Queue
Steve Ross-Talbot is chair of the W3C Web Services Coordination Group and co-chair of the Web Services Choreography Working Group. He thinks pi-calculus can revolutionize BPM, as revealed in this interview. SRT: "One of the interesting things in the pi-calculus is that if you have the notion of identity so that you can point to a specific interaction between any two participants, and then point to the identity of an onward interaction that may follow, you've now got a causal chain with the identity token that is needed to establish linkage... [At W3C] I managed to establish early on a bake-off between Petri net theory and the pi-calculus within the Choreography Working Group, and clearly the pi-calculus won the day. It won because when you deal with large, complex, distributed systems, one of the most common patterns that you come across is what we call a callback, where I might pass my details to you, and you might pass it to somebody else, in order for them to talk back to me. In Petri net theory, you can't change the graph: it's static. In the pi-calculus, you can... I think the first manifestation will be in tools for the systems architects to describe unambiguously the interactions that occur between the fundamental roles or components or services in a service-oriented architecture. What will happen is we'll deliver solutions based on the CDL (Choreography Description Language), which allows systems architects to describe their systems fully, from an observable perspective, with guarantees about the introduction or nonintroduction of livelocks, deadlocks, and race conditions... The first success story was the adoption of CDL by FpML.org; the second success story that I'm hoping for is that SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) will adopt this."
See also: CDL references

Modeling Web Services Choreography: BPMN and New Eclipse Tool pi4soa
Michael Havey, SYS-CON SOA Web Services Journal
Choreography presents a unified global view, depicting all of the processes and their required interactions. Web Services Choreography Description Language (WS-CDL) is the leading choreography language, and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) is the dominant process orchestration language. Though both XML-based languages feature a similar flow-oriented design style, only BPEL is meant to have an actual run-time platform: BPEL processes run, and WS-CDL choreographies are formal specifications documenting rules to guide interprocess exchange. There are no traffic cops in this laissez faire world, only traffic laws and law-abiding drivers. This article focuses on two parts of the choreography cycle: modeling and code refinement. In the modeling area, there are plenty of good business process tools supporting UML and BPMN from which to choose, but none of them can generate WS-CDL output directly. Many can export models in a canonical form (e.g., XML metamodel interchange, or XMI), but there are no third- party tools that can generate WS-CDL code from that form. An open-source version of the proposed code editor, to our delight, is now available in alpha form. The tool, known as Pi Calculus for Service-Oriented Architecture (pi4soa, developed by the company Pi 4 Technologies), is an Eclipse plugin that provides a graphical editor to compose WS-CDL choreographies and generate from them compliant BPEL.
See also: the Pi Calculus for SOA SourceForge project

Liberty Alliance Helps Fuel Use of Identity Specs
Jeremy Kirk, ComputerWorld
As the Liberty Alliance Project gathers momentum, industry insiders are expecting a sharp rise in the use of products and services that use Web identity-management specifications. On Tuesday, the Liberty Alliance Project said it expects the number of people and devices using federated identity specifications it endorses to top 1 billion this year. The 1 billion figure includes people who have created identities using the Liberty-endorsed specifications, plus devices and Web sites that use the protocols. In general, the identity-management specifications battle has subsided, said Graham Titterington, a principal analyst with Ovum Ltd. in London. "Most of the industry players are now backing Liberty," Titterington said. Liberty has supported SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) 2.0, a specification ratified in February 2005 that incorporated elements of several other specifications. The market for federated identity products is expected to grow because of wide adoption of SAML 2.0, according to research firm IDC. Identity access management includes technologies such as Web single sign-on, which allows for the sharing of log-in information across different Web sites, and advanced authentication methods such as smart cards and directory services.
See also: SAML references

RDF/A Primer 1.0: Embedding RDF in XHTML
Ben Adida and Mark Birbeck (eds), W3C SWBPD Working Group
W3C announced that its HTML Working Group and Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group jointly have published the First Public Working Draft of the "RDF/A Primer 1.0." A companion to the XHTML 2.0 specification, this document introduces syntax for expressing RDF metadata within XHTML, and explains the use of the XHTML metainformation modules. RDF/A is a set of attributes used to embed RDF in XHTML. An important goal of RDF/A is to achieve this RDF embedding without repeating existing XHTML content when that content is the metadata. Though RDF/A was initially designed for XHTML2, one should be able to use RDF/A with other XML dialects, e.g. XHTML1, SVG, given proper schema additions.
See also: XHTML 2.0 references

Adobe Builds Bridge to Ajax
Darryl K. Taft, eWeek
Adobe Systems released two new open-source libraries March 8 to help developers bridge Adobe Flash and Flex technology with the hot Asynchronous JavaScript and XML style of development. The two new open- source libraries -- the Flex-AJAX Bridge and the AJAX Client for Flex Data Services -- will enable developers to easily add the capabilities of the Flash Player and the Flex framework to AJAX applications. And developers also can add AJAX functionality into RIAs built with Flex. [Adobe's] Whatcott said the Adobe platform supports things that AJAX does not support, such as programmable audio, video, vector graphics, synchronous publish/subscribe data connectivity, offline data storage and cross-domain data access. The Flex-AJAX Bridge enables developers to call Flash Player Graphics APIs and to create Flex objects and other activities. In essence, the bridge enables things such as passing data from an AJAX data grid to a Flex bar chart or passing data to an AJAX widget from a Flex application. The AJAX Client for Flex Data Services, which is expected to be available later this year, lets AJAX applications connect to Flex Data Services 2.0 and support publish/ subscribe messaging and other data services. Paul Colton, founder of Xamlon and also of a startup called Aptana and creator of AFLAX (Asynchronous Flash and XML), a development methodology that combines AJAX and Flash to create more dynamic Web-based applications, said the open-source aspect of the new Adobe libraries is significant: "Flash is a very compelling technology, but requiring ActionScript and specialized tooling for building applications is a huge factor against Flash/Flex in the new world of AJAX. AFLAX enables developers to use only JavaScript on the client and fully utilize the Flash platform right alongside their other JavaScript code."

Launch of XBRL Service by HM Revenue and Customs Heralds Broader Use of New Electronic Business Language in the UK
Staff, Government Technology
The launch of a service for company tax filings in Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) by HM Revenue and Customs is an important step towards general regulatory filing of financial data in this new electronic language, the UK arm of the international XBRL consortium said yesterday. HMRC is also releasing a Technical Pack for software developers and will provide assistance as they enhance their products to use XBRL. HMRC's announcement that its Corporation Tax Online service can now accept tax computations in XBRL format follows the start of filing a few weeks ago of accounts in XBRL to Companies House. The Companies House system currently covers audit exempt accounts, but both it and HMRC are looking to expand the scope of accounts filed in XBRL in due course. Regulators in the US are also making progress with XBRL projects. The use of XBRL for regulatory bank reporting in the US has achieved major success, according to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). The FFIEC said its XBRL-based solution, which went live in October and receives reports from some 8,300 banks, had achieved measurable benefits, with an increase from 66% to 95% in data cleanliness, 70% to 100% in accuracy, weeks to hours in timeliness and a 15% rise in the productivity of analysts.
See also:

Opera Basks in Mini Browser Market Push
Matt Hines, eWEEK
Opera Software is celebrating a pair of wins after signing on two European carrier partners to help promote its mobile browsers. News of the deals drove shares of the company's stock up by 20 percent to an all-time high on its native Norwegian exchange. The more significant of the two partnerships announced by Opera was established in Germany with T-Mobile, which said it would begin installing the company's Mini browser for feature phones as the default browser on roughly 20 of its midtier devices, including handsets made by Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson. T-Mobile, which has its U.S. headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., is already using Opera Mobile, the company's browser for smart phones, in some of its high-end devices, some 400,000 of which it has shipped to users. Opera's second deal was with Debitel, another wireless provider, based in Stuttgart, Germany, which counts some 10 million subscribers across Europe. These new partnerships are in addition to Opera's longstanding deal with France Telecom Orange, and its list of relationships with device makers including Kyocera, Motorola and Nokia. [Analyst Brad] Akyuz said that Opera Mini does deliver a compelling enough proposition to attract people to use the mobile Web once they have tried the browser out, which he said should ultimately give the company a chance until something better comes along. Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with New York-based Jupiter Research, said most people didn't expect Opera to have as much success as it already has achieved in bringing its mobile browsers to users.

Complex Data Transformation
Joseph Schwartz, Line 56
Many integration projects get stalled, or even derailed, when companies run smack into what we call "complex" data. Transforming unstructured data or data of a highly complex structure, such as in the growing number of XML-based messaging standards, is beyond the capability of common integration tools. This limitation forces organizations to manually code and manage hundreds of interfaces in order to make full use of their complex data -- an error-prone practice that greatly increases the cost of what's known as data transformation, already the highest-cost element of most integration initiatives. In this article the author looks at how to address the problem. Complex data has long represented one of the largest obstacles to effective business integration. Moving forward, a standardized complex data transformation capability will play a key role in making the full promise of business integration both practical and cost-effective to achieve. It's time for companies to get smart about new strategies and technologies for transforming complex data into standardized, useful information -- and bringing it into a highly efficient development and deployment environment to power the real-time enterprise.

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