OASIS Moves Forward with XML Repository Plans

FRAMINGHAM (06/27/2000) - At the XML DevCon 2000 conference here yesterday, developers got an update on the progress of a repository that's being built to house business-to-business XML schema, along with some news about tools that are supposed to help them build XML-based applications.

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a nonprofit consortium based in Billerica, Massachusetts, announced that more than 20 organizations have registered to submit XML schemas, document type definitions (DTD) and supporting documentation with its Registry.

The Registry aims to serve as a public clearinghouse for all the schemas, specifications and vocabularies that different industries will need in order to facilitate the exchange of business-to-business data via XML documents.

Sponsors of the registry include Sun Microsystems Inc., the Sun-Netscape Alliance's iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions, Documentum Inc. and Oracle Corp., all of which provided technology that's being used by OASIS to develop and maintain the registry. Other contributing vendors include IBM and DataChannel Inc.

The Registry is similar to another schema repository that Microsoft Corp. has set up as part of its BizTalk technology initiative. Microsoft said late last year that more than 150 organizations had already registered to publish XML schema in its repository.

But Steve Garone, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts, said he doesn't think the fracturing of XML schema approaches will be a major issue for users and developers. What's really important is the XML standard itself, Garone said, "and Microsoft, at least with its words, is committed to the standard."

OASIS Executive Director Laura Walker said she anticipates that there eventually will be numerous interoperable repositories for XML schemas and DTDs. Microsoft -- which today said it's releasing a draft version of an upgrade of its BizTalk Framework specification for routing and exchanging data via XML -- couldn't be reached for comment on the repository issue.

Also yesterday at the conference here, Sun announced the release of its Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation (XSLT) Compiler. The Java-based compiler, which will become available as a free download from Sun's Web site later this week, is meant to help users transform XML files into the formats required by different applications or by devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants that have limited display screens.

The XSLT Compiler produces a precompiled Java program, called a "translet," that takes XML files and does the necessary transformation. The translet is "considerably smaller than what you would see out of a general XSLT engine" and runs faster, said Bill Smith, who manages Sun's XML Technology Center and is president of the OASIS board of directors.

Also at XML DevCon, Toronto-based SoftQuad Software Ltd. announced the shipment of XMetal 2.0, an upgraded version of its Windows-based XML content creation tool. New features include increased customization options and expanded support for advanced XML constructs. A single-user license for XMetal 2.0 is priced at $495.