Oracle Unveils Internet File System

FRAMINGHAM (05/05/2000) - Oracle Corp. is promoting its newly unveiled Internet File System (iFS)as a way for enterprise customers to quickly make use of XML for sharing data among different, Web-based commerce and business applications.

This week, for the first time, the company offered details of the developer's tool kit that ships with iFS. The file system is designed to be a repository for all kinds of file-based information, including the Web documents and e-mail messages that are a key part of new Web commerce and business applications being built by enterprise users.

The tool kit lets programmers extend iFS to manipulate a wide array of files, including XML. Among other things, the tool kit has a set of "parsers" and "renderers" that, respectively, sift data from XML documents for storing in the Oracle8i database and export data from 8i into XML format.

That's important because the XML standard is expected to be the common medium for sharing among different companies critical business-to-business data such as purchase order numbers, customer ID numbers, addresses, account information and product identifiers. Oracle's XML tools with iFS make it easier for enterprise customers to move such data between Web-based applications and centralized Oracle databases, where the data can be shared among back-end enterprise applications such as order fulfillment, inventory, manufacturing and shipping.

Until now, says John Magee, Oracle's director of Internet platform marketing, programmers in effect dissolved the document to move the data into a database.

With iFS and Oracle8i, end users can still view and use the XML documents, while their data becomes accessible to any database application or tool.

A company can use the developer's kit to create a template for handling XML purchase orders. When a purchase order arrives in an e-mail box, it can be passed to iFS, which stores the document and passes the correct data to the database, such as purchase order number, customer ID and date.

The tool kit can handle other kinds of files, as well. The renderer APIs, for example, access information stored in an iFS repository and output the information in specified file format. Other applications that can work with that format can then make use of the data.

Using the tool kit, developers can create small Java programs called agents.

Agents can, for example, notify a user or group of users whenever the contents of a particular iFS file changes.

IFS replaces Windows 95, 98 and NT, and Unix file systems. Users can move their files into iFS by dragging and dropping them or by backing up their desktop hard drives to a network drive that is mapped to iFS.

An early developer's release of iFS is available now for Sun Solaris servers, from Oracle's developer Web site. The Windows NT version will be available later this month.

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