A Potluck Party for XML

How can XML applications written by disparate parties work in harmony? The answer may come as early as next week in a flurry of demonstrations by top-tier vendors.

The foundation language for Web services , which allow applications to talk to one another, Extensible Markup Language (XML) serves as the backbone for many of the applications developers are writing today. It is used to create common information formats and share the format and the data on the Internet. Most software companies employ the language to build more useful applications.

Microsoft , BEA and Adobe will have a presence at the XML Conference and Expo 2003, which is taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Dec. 7-12. While not a product launch-oriented event, XML 2003 affords participants the chance to showcase their progress in developing software and offers attendees the opportunity to see numerous product demonstrations in action.

XML 2003 Chairperson Lauren Wood, who is also chair emerita of the W3C DOM Working Group, is responsible for overseeing the content of the event. Wood said the offer to participate in the 100 tutorial or demonstration time slots was met by a flurry of 400 applications. She also said there is one big difference between this year and previous years: results.

“The big trend at the conference this year is ‘This is what we did and it has worked,’ whereas in previous years the proposals were ‘This is what we’d like to do.'” Wood told internetnews.com. “Demonstrating interoperability at the show used to be about taking an XML document authored in one language and writing it in another and showing it in an XML browser. Now there is a lot more to it. Now people are talking about getting disparate systems working together.”

Key standards bodies, under which where members gather to work on XML-based projects together, will also preside, including the World Wide Web Consortium, Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) consortium.

Wood, who expects somewhere in the range of 1,000 attendees, said standards bodies W3C, OASIS and WS-I will all show interoperability demonstrations.

OASIS will showcase WS-Reliability interoperability with participants Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems. WS-Reliability is designed for applications that require guaranteed message delivery, a task that will be demonstrated by the companies using a case derived from a commercial scenario.

Participants will act as server or client while various combinations of trouble are introduced in the network. Correct operation and inter-operation of these implementations will be demonstrated with dropped messages, duplicated messages and disordered messages.

On a practical level, OASIS will show how software can help manage a health epidemic using ebXML, UBL and XACML. Yellow Dragon, Sun Microsystems, Sybase, Adobe, and AmberPoint will join forces to show how a scientist electronically fills an communicable disease form declaring an outbreak Hospitals nationwide are then electronically notified of the epidemic outbreak.

XML 2003 is something of a last dinosaur in a field that has seen many similar conferences fade away, according to Adobe Technology Strategist Charles Myers. Myers told internetnews.com that other shows, including XML World and XML DevCon have all gone by the wayside while XML 2003 manages to survive.

Myers remembers coming to the event when it was named for the forbearer of XML, Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) , the standard for how to create a document structure.

Myers said Shantanu Narayen, executive vice president of worldwide products at Adobe, will kick off the keynote sessions Tuesday by discussing the way Adobe solves the problem of bringing data and presentation together to help companies improve business processes. Adobe’s XML architecture integrates the visual presentation and data into a common framework, while separating the data and presentation interfaces.

“This will be about ‘how do I know how to present this and make it human readable?’ Myers said.

Adobe is currently using its portable document format (PDF) as the foundation to create electronic forms, allowing users to deploy forms in Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) or in an XML Data Package (XDP) as desired. It competes with similar approaches from Microsoft (InfoPath
) and the W3C (XForms.)

In other keynotes, Adam Bosworth, chief architect and senior VP of advanced development at BEA Systems, Wednesday will reach into the past to discuss how XML became so popular and why its been changing the architecture of applications. The executive will discuss the unfulfilled aspects of XML and offer ways to fulfill those promises. A leading application server provider, BEA competes with IBM for middleware market share.

Directly after Bosworth, an executive from HP will present a content management case study. HP is using XML to transport XML-based content between various internal and external assets with partners such as Trigo, Documentum, Broadvision, Oracle, Trados, XPLANE, and Vignette.

Mario Queiroz, vice president of content management services, will provide an overview of HP’s vision, strategies, tactics, challenges, and learning’s associated with centralized digital content management on a global enterprise scale.

On Thursday, Dan Shiffman, director of computer software and services, Almaden Research Center at IBM, will show how to build “very large systems inside a firewall” using Model Based Design and XML RPC.

The session will discuss the use of optimized SOAP in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to provide high performance systems behind the firewall. The design of a super computer cluster for text analytics that uses these principles will be described.

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