IBM, W3C Advance XML Standards

The extensible Markup Language (XML) continued to build momentum across a wide range of areas this week, with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) issuing recommendations for describing XML-based schemas, and IBM Corp. posting plans to use XML to bring speech capabilities to browsers.

The XML Schema proposal, which is on the standards track at the W3C, enables developers to create markup constructs and document structures different than what is allowed in Document Type Definitions (DTDs). XML Schema also allows for data-typing so tagged information can be identified as, for example, an integer or a date.

The proposal merges previous W3C submissions for XML Data and Document Content Description.

One analyst said XML Schema is necessary to provide richer constructs than DTDs.

"DTDs are not strong enough to support the enterprise requirements for sharing and exchanging data via XML," said JP Morgenthal, an analyst at NC.Focus, in Hewlett, New York. "Schemas provide a richer mechanism for describing the data encapsulated in an XML instance."

Morgenthal said he was glad the W3C seems to be moving quickly to define XML Schema, but he noted that time may be short.

"If we don't see a recommendation from (the) W3C on XML Schemas this year, it will have a significant impact on XML being used for business-to-business communications," Morgenthal said.

IBM will use XML to define a new language to deliver speech capabilities to Web browsers. Speech Markup Language, or SpeechML, which is described on the company's Alphaworks Web site, is similar to the Motorola Inc.-proposed VoxML, which aims to provide access to Web content via telephone.

Both companies expressed interest in submitting their proposals to a standards body. Motorola said IBM's XML-based approach will make integrating the languages easier.

"This is a validation of our markup language-based approach, and I'm glad we're on the same page with IBM," said Joe Brennan, business manager at Motorola's Internet and Connectivity Services Division.

An IBM representative said the ultimate goal is for all parties to develop one speech markup standard through the W3C.

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