OASIS seeks URI scheme to accommodate XML, Web services

Members of OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) on Wednesday announced a collaborative effort to find a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) scheme for distributed directory services and data sharing, with accommodations for XML and Web services.

The OASIS Extensible Resource Identifier (XRI) Technical Committee will define a URI scheme and a corresponding Uniform Resource namespace (URN) that meets these requirements, as well as mechanisms for resolving XRIs and exchanging data and metadata associated with XRI-identified resources, OASIS said.

According to OASIS, URIs are a pillar of a Web architecture, but most URI schemes were developed prior to the era of XML and Web services. OASIS plans to develop a new URI syntax to meet the needs of identifying and sharing resources and data persistently across different organizations and applications.

XRI syntax will be federated, the way DNS and IP addressing are today, and tackle the problem of how to identify the same logical resource stored in different physical locations. For example, the same file stored on different file servers or the same invoice stored in different accounting systems must be identified, according to OASIS.

Analyst Ronald Schmelzer, of ZapThink LLC in Boston, said in a prepared statement that industry support for XRI will be needed from major vendors such as IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., BEA Systems Inc., and Sun Microsystems Inc. The WS-I (Web Services Interoperability Organization) also will need to support the XRI effort, Schmelzer said.

"This might be an example of a great technology concept with major adoption challenges," Schmelzer said. As of press time, the four vendors had not yet responded to inquiries from Infoworld.

The XRI plan also conflicts with Web services initiatives such as UDDI, according to Schmelzer.

"For example, much of the purpose of UDDI is to facilitate the dynamic discovery and binding to services that themselves are defined at specific URLs. Thus, the URLs represent a specific binding location and UDDI should be the way to isolate us from having to know those URLs ahead of time," Schmelzer wrote.

"However, XRI [proponents] claim that they will be working within the concept of URIs and directory services, such as UDDI. But, the challenge is to get their XRI naming mechanism adopted by those that facilitate creation and deployment of Web services," he added.

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