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XML Standards Move Forward

The World Wide Web Consortium this week moved to standardize XML hyperlinks.

XML Linking Language (XLink) Version 1.0 allows elements to be inserted into Extensible Markup Language (XML) documents to create and describe links between resources. The XML syntax creates structures that can not only describe links similar to the simple unidirectional hyperlinks of today's HTML, but go well beyond.

Along with providing linking data structures, XLink additionally provides a minimal link behavior model. Therefore, higher level applications layered on XLink will often specify alternate or more sophisticated rendering and processing treatments.

XLink provides a framework for creating both basic unidirectional links and more complex linking structures, according to the WC3. It allows XML documents to assert linking relationships among more than two resources, associate metadata with a links and express links that reside in a location separate from the linked resources.

"This is a useful and important time in the development of the XML family of technologies," said Janet Daly, WC3 spokesperson. "It proves the technology's viability, stability and extensibility."

The Working Group believes that, if approved, XML will:

  • Enable internationalized media-independent electronic publishing.
  • Allow industries to define platform-independent protocols for the exchange of data, especially the data of electronic commerce.
  • Deliver information to user agents in a form that allows automatic processing after receipt.
  • Make it easier to develop software to handle specialized information distributed over the Web.
  • Make it easy for people to process data using inexpensive software.
  • Allow people to display information the way they want it, under style sheet control.
  • Make it easier to provide metadata -- data about information -- that will help people find information and help information producers and consumers find each other.

The XML Linking Working Group released the recommendation this week. It is available for public review until October 3.

"The Working Group is asking developers to look at the document, experiment and give us feedback," Daly said. "We are also hoping to see open source implementation, which is important for the success of a specification."

Comments should be sent to the public mailing list.

The XLink recommendation follows a related specification, XML Pointer, which addresses the discrete sections of an XML document.



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