Microsoft tosses a DIME for Web services

Working to hammer out the technical details of Web service interactions, Microsoft Corp. this month quietly submitted to the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) a message format protocol designed to simplify the transmission of video, graphics, and sound files in Web services.

Building on the success of the MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) specification, which allows graphics, audio, and video files to be sent and received in e-mail, DIME (Direct Internet Message Encapsulation) sets out to streamline the MIME standard for use in Web services.

DIME addresses the difficulties involved in embedding binary data, such as video, graphics, and sound, into XML documents and in putting an XML document in another XML document, according to Philip DesAutels, product manager for XML Web services at Microsoft. The Redmond, Wash.-based company submitted DIME as an IETF Internet Draft on Nov. 14.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft earlier this year submitted for standards consideration development work that described how to use MIME and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) to combine binary data and multiple messages together.

From this development work in using SOAP with attachments, Microsoft saw a need for a simpler format for combining multiple chunks of information into one message, DesAutels said.

"MIME is very useful, but it is very rich and because of that it can be complicated to implement and use. DIME is a way to put multiple pieces of information into one message, but it is simpler and more targeted at the space of Web services," he said.

The end goal of DIME, DesAutels said, is to untangle complex Web service interactions, which could involve passing images and video feeds as part of a service.

"Using DIME, a Web service could combine text, image, and video in a single message. DIME lets it happen easier," he said.

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