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OASIS Adds New XML, Geography Committees

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) continued its momentum toward laying the foundation for Web services Wednesday when it formed two new technical committees to advance the XML Topic Maps specification for organizing, retrieving and navigating information resources.

Topic maps, considered by developers and analysts to be a key knowledge management parcel, provide a knowledge layer that is independent of the information resources themselves, to manage corporate memory, improve indexing and integrate information in multiple repositories. They may be used to treat subject classification, search and retrieval tools, portals, semantic Web and knowledge management.

The Boston-based XML interoperability consortium said its new Vocabulary for XML Standards and Technologies (XMLvoc) Technical Committee will define the subjects needed to create languages for the XML domain. OASIS' Published Subjects for Geography and Languages (GeoLang) Technical Committee was created to define sets of published subjects for languages, countries, and regions.

Debra Logan, senior research analyst at Gartner, discussed the use of topic maps.

"Any enterprise that has invested time and effort in searching for information resources online and needs a way to capture the output of that search will have a use for topic maps," Logan said. "Because the paradigm is powerful, flexible and extensible, topic maps will become a mainstream technology by 2003."

OASIS XMLvoc committee Chairman Dr. H. Holger Rath said his group will provide a reference set of concept and relationship types that will enable common access layers, making it easier to locate information on XML.

"Our work will allow information providers all over the world to create XML-related topics maps that can be merged and interoperate with one another," Rath said in a public statement.

Meanwhile, Lars Marius Garshol has been appointed chair of the OASIS GeoLang committee. Garshol said GeoLang's published subjects will update and extend existing topic maps work using code sets defined by recognized standards bodies such as ISO and the United Nations.

OASIS' news comes at a hectic time, as Microsoft Corp. Wednesday went live with its Visual Studio .NET, a crucial tool to the software giant's Web services framework .NET. Where does OASIS' work fit in with this? OASIS is an XML purveyor and Microsoft is counting on the extensible markup language to support .NET.

Last week, Microsoft banded together with six other tech firms to craft the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) Organization to facilitate the creation of interoperable Web services.

OASIS has been busy as of late, too. On Monday, the organization said it had been invited by four international standards bodies to coordinate global standards for electronic business.