Good week for the standards

It must have been a busy week at The World Wide Web Consortium, and I have set my feed reader to be especially attentive to their news feed, because there is a continuous stream of important news there.

I’ll run through those news I consider the most important:

IPR: Royalty-Free Patent Policy Last Call Published. The Patent Policy Working Group has released the Royalty-Free Patent Policy as a Last Call Working Draft. The draft governs the handling of patents in the process of producing and implementing W3C Recommendations (press release; patent policy home page). Thanks guys. This is good news, I think (coverage: Wired, The Register.) Over at Slashdot, David Wheeler yesterday wrote:
“Yes – please, tell the W3C you support their new royalty-free policy for W3C standards. Send email with your “attaboy” message to: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org It’s not done, this is still a draft.” By all means, follow David’s advice! Securing one of the meanings of “Free” (beer) is important, and the W3C policy is an important (first) step here for the web standards. But Free as in freedom is the hard one, and the policy is not really helping us a lot here.

Architecture: The W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) has released an updated Working Draft, Architecture of the World Wide Web. The Web Services Architecture Working Group also released the first public Working Draft of Web Services Architecture, WSA, as well as an.updated Web Services Architecture Requirements and Web Services Glossary. WSA is a “blessing” of SOAP and WSDL, but has a generic definition: A Web service is a software system identified by a URI, whose public interfaces and bindings are defined and described using XML. Its definition can be discovered by other software systems. These systems may then interact with the Web service in a manner prescribed by its definition, using XML based messages conveyed by internet protocols.. TAG writes:

“Our definition of the term “Web services” does not presuppose the use of SOAP as a packaging format or a processing model. Nor does it presuppose the use of WSDL as a service description language. There are, and will be in the future, plenty of Web services that use raw HTTP as a data transfer protocol and some mutually agreed-upon XML format as the message content. The Web Services *reference architecture* does, however, assume that the higher levels of the Web services protocol stack are built on the foundation of SOAP and WSDL.
This “blessing” of SOAP and WSDL is not logically necessary, since some other mechanism could be defined to gather XML message components into a single package, and other description mechanisms such as DAML-S could be used instead of WSDL. Perhaps in the long run, other technologies will supplant SOAP and WSDL, and it is not the intent of the WSA to discourage research and experimentation in these areas. On the other hand, the WSA WG believes that a common foundation is a *practical* necessity for the industry to move forward with additional Web services functionality, including security, choreography, etc. The WSA reference architecture builds on SOAP and WSDL as the basis for messaging and description. Specifications that conform to the WSA reference architecture MUST use SOAP and WSDL when appropriate.”

What are they saying here? I am yet to dig deeper into the documents, but from what I can see, it looks quite sensible. I slowly getting used to SOAP, and agree with the TAG that we do need to move forward. If SOAP and WSDL are made fully compliant to the IPR-policy, and if the industry can deliver better and cheaper systems using them, well, then let’s make a move forward with these two standards then. I’m not sure I like the MUST above …

Metdata: RDF/XML Syntax Specification Update. The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a general-purpose language for representing information in the Web (a metadata language).The RDF Core Working Group has released a Working Draft of RDF/XML Syntax Specification (Revised). The document updates the RDF Model and Syntax Specification in terms of XML, XML Namespaces, the XML Information Set with new support for XML Base. The Working Group has also released updated Working Drafts of the RDF Primer, RDF Test Cases, RDF Semantics, and RDF Concepts and Abstract Syntax. The primer is a good starting point, and will become an important document once it has been consolidated a bit more. RDF is famous for being very complicated, even for the new breed of “XML coders”, and the syntax update is long overdue. There’s lots of politics involved here, of course. Follow the debates on BurningBird.

Forms: XForms Becomes a W3C Candidate Recommendation.W3C announced advancement of XForms 1.0 to Candidate Recommendation. More flexible than previous HTML and XHTML form technologies, the new generation of Web forms separates purpose, presentation, and data (press release; testimonials; and XForms home page.) Coverage: The Register, XMLHack , CNet.This is important news to government, who loves forms. Is it bad news to anyone? Yes, to Microsoft, who has developed their own XDocs, and whom does not support XForms. Yet?

Graphics: W3C also announced the Proposed Recommendation of SVG 1.1 and SVG Mobile Profiles. SVG, Scalable Vector Graphics, is a language for describing two-dimensional graphics in XML. By also releasing the first working draft of SVG 1.2, W3C  has taken on the battle about graphics on the web, and now with the Mobile Profiles, also the various mobile devices. (CNet).
Flash XML is doomed, it seems.

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2 Comments.

  • Kamal, what do you mean when you say e-governance? There are many different XML initiatives in this field, such as LegalXML.

  • Kamal Kishore Jha
    July 14, 2003 12:58 pm

    I am presently doing a project on “XML and its application in eGovernance”.
    I want informations regarding “Available XML Standards for eGovernance”.
    It would be a great help if you could provide some assistance.

    Kamal Kishore Jha

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