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Apache Brings Open Source to XML

The Apache Software Foundation this week unveiled the Apache XML Project, an effort dedicated to developing a common set of open source Internet tools, and thus a set of common Internet standards, for XML.

Several vendors, including IBM Corp. (IBM) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) have donated technology to the effort. The Apache XML Project will strive to keep this key Web technology uniform by increasing its popularity with open source tools.

The intent of the Apache XML Project, according to Brian Behlendorf, president of the Apache Software Foundation, is that by pulling together technologies, XML will remain a level playing field throughout the industry. Just as HTTP and Java have common sets of standards, the Apache XML Project hopes to do the same for XML.

To accomplish this, the Apache XML Project will follow a three-fold mission:

  • Provide commercial-quality, standards-based XML solutions developed in an open and cooperative fashion
  • Provide feedback to standards bodies (such as the IETF and W3C) from an implementation perspective
  • Be a focus for XML-related activities within Apache projects

The Apache XML Project has been broken down into four subprojects: Xerces (XML parsers in Java, C++ and Perl), Xalan (stylesheet processors in Java and C++), FOP (an XSL formatting processor in Java) and Cocoon (a framework for XML-based Web publishing).

IBM and Sun have donated their more popular parsers, which fall into the Xerces subproject. IBMs XML4J and XML4C read and validate XML documents. These parsers are already free of charge and have been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Sun has offered its Java Project X and XHTML Parser. Java Project X is a high-performance and fully conformant XML parser with optional validation that provides essential functionality for reading, manipulating and generating XML text. XHTML Parser is an experimental parser for reading and writing XHTML.

Other technology providers include Lotus Development Corp. and DataChannel. Additional technology in the Apache XML Project is FOP, Cocoon, OpenXML and XSL:P.

The source code for Xerces, Xalan FOP and Cocoon can be obtained here, under the basic Apache license. As with other Apache code, the organization requires credit for the code be attributed back to Apache. Like with other Apache undertakings, the Apache XML Project is open to any developer or company.