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XML (eXtensible Markup Language): An Overview

As web developers know all too well, basic HTML (HyperText Markup Language) doesn't provide any structure to Web pages, and the formatting is mixed with the content. To allow Web pages to be structured for automated processing (e.g. electronic commerce), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed an enhancement to HTML. The result were two new languages; one was XSL (eXtensible Style Language), and the other was XML (eXtensible Markup Language), a system for defining, validating, and sharing document formats on the Web.

XML is best known to many bloggers and Netizens as RSS (Rich Site Summary/Really Simple Syndication), which is actually a lightweight XML format used to share headlines and weblog feeds.

History

The W3C, an organization devoted to developing the Web and standardizing protocols, formed an XML Working Group chaired by Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems in 1996. Several key industry players who were also included in the working group were Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Netscape, and Fuji Xerox.

The group published a working draft for XML in November of the same year. Two years later, the W3C announced the release of the XML 1.0 specification.

The year 1999 found the release of two W3C Recommendations on XML. The first was entitled Namespaces on XML, and the other was Associating Stylesheets with XML documents. In January of 2001, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) released a Proposed Standard on XML Media Types.

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XML is an open, human-readable text format derived from the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). Originally meant for large-scale electronic publishing, XML is now being used in the exchange of various types of data on the Web and elsewhere. It is also becoming a language of choice for communication between application programs.

The XML Working Group’s design goals (taken from http://www.w3.org) for XML were:

    XML shall be straightforwardly usable over the Internet.
    XML shall support a wide variety of applications.
    XML shall be compatible with SGML.
    It shall be easy to write programs that process XML documents.
    The number of optional features in XML is to be kept to the absolute minimum, ideally zero.
    XML documents should be human-legible and reasonably clear.
    The XML design should be prepared quickly.
    The design of XML shall be formal and concise.
    XML documents shall be easy to create.
    Terseness in XML markup is of minimal importance.

The markup language describes XML documents, which are a class of data objects. Moreover, XML also describes the behavior of software modules called XML processors. These are used to read XML documents and provide access to their content and structure.

Syntax

Those familiar enough with HTML will find XML syntax a lot similar. However, don't assume that coding in XML is painlessly easy -- XML is stricter than HTML, and sloppy HTML coders will do well to remember that. Several reminders when coding in XML:

    All elements must have a closing tag.
    All elements must be properly nested.
    All tags are case sensitive.
    All attribute values must be enclosed in quotation marks.

A good hands-on tutorial on XML can be found at W3Schools.com.

About the Writer of this Article

Phillip Kimpo Jr. is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). A freelance writer and computer science graduate, he keeps a tech weblog at Crimson Crux (http://ccrux.corsarius.net), as well as a literary weblog at Corsarius' Slip of the Pen (http://corsarius.blogspot.com).

Why Is Everyone On About XML?

In the traditional world, a telephone handset was a telephone handset. In the new world of IP, what looks like a telephone handset is in fact a computer. If it’s an Alcatel IP handset then it’s a dumb terminal driven by a presentation server and if it’s a Cisco IP handset, it’s more or less a PC. The only restriction is the size and type of the display. In both cases the telephone interface is a web browser and as fashion accessory the IP telephone can sit where you the PC can’t. We know all of this because Ghost Software, with its offshore software development resource, deals with a variety of IP platforms both in terms of Computer Telephony Integration and Voice over IP. This makes the IP handset ideal for retail, like shops in a shopping mall, in reception areas and banking foyers as well as in a ward in a hospital or a school library. What drives applications on these handsets is XML. So what kind of applications makes the purchasing of an IP handset worthwhile? In the early days of XML, people were populating browsers with Yellow Pages, stocks and share prices, news and weather updates. Sure, they look great but they didn’t justify the price premium of the hardware. Our research shows that what’s required are some traditional telephony orientated applications or specialist vertical market applications, the latter having its own set of unique problems.

We have, we think, three and a half generic applications that are so compelling, that people will pay the hardware handset premium to have them. The first is the ability to send SMS messages from a landline either to one, or broadcasted to many mobile handsets. Whilst this application will work with any XML handset, it is particularly suited to the Alcatel IP Touch range, with its built in Qwerty keyboard, This allows for easy integration of SMS into the general portfolio of business communication. Anyone with an external sales force will have an immediate need. Next is an application called “XPOP” It’s a basic screen pop application that always resided on a PC, so you can see who is calling by capturing the caller’s number and querying the database. Now we can extract the information and populate an XML phone browser. It’s fairly straightforward to build a driver that integrates into the most common contact management databases and in most cases the interface will give you the ability for one click dial out by name. Last but not least is an outbound dialler. Some people in the world want a predictive dial solution, but we think that’s too niche. A general purpose low-priced dialer that allows people to log in and log out, that reschedules busy calls that gives you one round of call completion codes (Sale made; brochure sent and not interested for example) is good enough for most general businesses. And what about the “half!?” – well, that’s ShortEmail. That’s the ability to send and receive emails on the IP handset. It’s so simple it’s hardly an application, but it is ideal for places where you can’t house a PC, like a hospital ward where you might want to send a quick email “Bring food quickly!”

Now, there are vertical market applications. The size, shape and composition of these is endless. Off the top of my head, here are three. (1) The books of a school library. –displayed on an IP handset. Students can see whether books are in or out and reserve them. (2) Lost case notes in a hospital. Patients go from ward to ward and often their case notes get left behind. An application which broadcasts to all departments with an option to reply if you have them is ideal, and (3) Hospitality software, where staff can enter a pin code when they have cleaned a room or you can order room service from your handset. The problem is, however, that if you go to a business and say what do you want? - The answer is invariably “we don’t know!” The solution is to build demo applications which have a feature set but they are hard-coded (this means they’re quicker to develop) and once you show it, everyone knows what’s wrong with it. And….hey presto, you have a brief. This is the way we have worked over recent months with some very good results. For any further information about what is written here, you can contact us on enquiries@ghost-software.com or contact Ghost Software at any of its local offices.

Ghost software is a UK based company that offers affordable computer telephony integration, Voice over IP applications and PBX solutions. We also offer bespoke offshore software development.

How to Retrieve Data from SQL Server Database in XML Format?

After the release of the SQL Server 2000 the way the data is retrieved has taken a new dimension. The support for XML format is there from the version of SQL Server 2000.

With that it is possible to retrieve data from the SQL Server database in the XML format. SQLXML is used for this purpose. With such possibilities it is possible to access data in the SQL Server using URL based queries where the queries are transported using HTTP.

If you are already familiar with the SQL queries then it is very easy to create queries that return data in XML format. The syntax for such SQL queries would be,

SELECT ... FOR XML mode

The values of the ‘mode’ may be ‘auto’, ‘explicit’, ‘raw’, and ‘nested’. Depending on the mode that you are using the format of the XML output varies. If the mode is ‘auto’, the resulting XML document will have an element for each row that is found in the table of the SQL Server database.

In the ‘explicit’ mode it is possible to define how the columns of the table should be returned to the query. In the ‘raw’ mode all the fields of the table are considered as the attributes of the element of the XML data that is returned. The columns that have null values are not included. The returned elements have a ‘row’ prefix to it.

The ‘nested’ mode allows formatting to be done at the client side and it is the same as the ‘auto’ mode except for this difference. The explicit mode is the most powerful mode for returning data. It is possible to define how you want the data and you can even use filters and sorts to get the data in the way you want.

Apart from these there are optional parameters for the SQL query. The optional parameters as the name indicates can either be used or neglected. The optional parameters that can be used are Binary Base64, Elements, and XMLData. With the optional parameters in place the syntax would take the form,

SELECT ... FOR XML mode [, BINARY BASE64] [, ELEMENTS] [, XMLDATA]

The Binary Base64 option is used if you want to retrieve data in the binary format from the database. Binary data that is found in the database should be retrieved using this option. The modes that are used to retrieve data in binary format are the ‘raw’ and the ‘explicit’ modes.

The Elements option is used to return the data in the table as child elements. The fields of the row become the attributes of the element returned if you are not using the Elements option. Thus for each row you get an element with child elements being the fields of the row.

Auto mode is the only mode in which you can use the Elements option. If you want to define the format that is returned you need an XSD schema for that. The XMLData option allows this. This option adds a schema so that you get the format that you want for your XML data.

Managed classes are available in the .Net framework for interacting with the database. The Managed classes that are useful for this are SqlXMLCommand, SqlXMLParameter, SqlXMLAdapter, and SqlXMLException.

The SqlXMLCommand is used to query the XML templates. These are the XML documents that have the SQLXML queries in them. Processing the queries on the client side is possible with this managed class.

A managed class called the SqlXMLAdapter class is available which can be used to fill the dataset. This is the adapter class for the provider.

Another managed class called the SqlXMLParameter is available which can be used to pass parameters. This class is used along with the SqlXMLCommand managed class.

A class for trapping errors from the SQL Server is available which is called the SqlXMLException managed class.

A simple example of using the managed classes for getting XML output from the SQL Server database is given below. This code uses the XML AUTO mode for generating the XML data.

static string xmlstr = "Provider=SQLOLEDB;Server=(local);database=Orders;";
public static void SampleSqlXML () { Stream objStr = Console.OpenStandardOutput();
SqlXMLCommand sqlcmd = new SqlXMLCommand(xmlstr);
sqlcmd.Root = "Orders";
sqlcmd.CommandType = SqlXMLCommandType.Sql;
sqlcmd.CommandText = "SELECT OrderNo, OrderValue FROM Orders FOR XML AUTO";
strm = sqlcmd.ExecuteToStream(objStr);
objStr.Close(); }

For more information and samples on the managed classes that are used for retrieving data in XML format from SQL Server you can refer to the MSDN documentation.

Since we know that the results of the query are in the form of XML, it is possible to write your own ASP or ASP.Net code to display the values retrieved in XML format in the webpage. You can use the XSL for formatting the output in the way you want in the webpage. This allows the user to see the values in a particular format using the browser of their choice.

Stay current with the latest technology developments related to XML and other related technologies? Visit Understanding eXtensible Rights Markup Language - XrML to get your FREE subscription now!

Oracle E-Business Suite: XML Publisher – Overview for Consultant

Oracle Reports, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Applications, Oracle XML Publisher

In 2004, Oracle has delivered a new tool for developing reports on Oracle Applications. It was named Oracle XML Publisher and it is available within the technology stack of the E-Business suite (sometimes also called Oracle Financials).

Most of the companies that utilize Oracle Applications as its ERP system have a long backlog list of reports to be constructed. Oracle has delivered this tool for helping organizations on this issue. Using this tool, users can create a template of the reports layouts using a set of familiar desktop tools such as MS Word and Adobe Acrobat or instead of creating, a user can just enter a template, such as a Government PDF form. The data is still handled by the E-Business suite, but now users can design and control how the report outputs will be presented using a familiar desktop application.

The classic approach to create reports was to combine 3 components: Data Logic, Layout and Translation in a single file what makes it very inflexible. Even a simple change on the layout of a report, a new report file has to be generated with all components. With this new product, just a minor change on template file is necessary. The picture below shows how the three components are treated separated by the XML Publisher at the design time, and at runtime they are brought back together by XML Publisher to generate the final formatted output. XML Publisher allows user to choose the output format of the report. The most common formats are PDF, RTF, HTML, Excel, XML, EDI and EFT. This tool also has a delivery service where users can choose what they want to do with the report. Using this service, it is possible to send the output directly to an email address, to a printer, to a fax or to a WebDAV server.

This is a powerful tool for building reports; the only thing that I am wondering is how it fits in with Oracle´s existing tool for reporting. Is it going to substitute Oracle Reports? In the statement of directions Oracle doesn’t says that, so probably we will have to wait a little bit more to have this answer, probably from the market.

Give us a call 1-866-528-0577 or help@albaspectrum.com if you need additional information or directions.

Author is technical consultant at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com http://www.greatplains.com.mx http://www.ronix-systems.de ), serving clients in Houston, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Francisco, Millwaukee, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Detroit, San Diego, and having locations in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Germany, Mexico

Getting Indexed by Google in Couple of Days - Using Google XML Sitemap

Getting Indexed in Google in couple of days..

Now many may feel IS THAT EASY.. well Yes it is easy..

I am not talking about submitting your sites to Google Search Engine.

All you have to do is just follow the steps below:

1) Design the sites according to your products and needs. No rules there.

2) URL's - make Search engine friendly URL's, dont keep urls like

http://domain.com/filename.php?pid=23badurl&rr

instead rewrite them like.. http://domain.com/filename.php or html

That also helps for your future SEO purpose.

3) Once you have completed with the above.. just check and make sure there are no broken links.. ( search engines dont like that )

4) Create a good Sitemap. Sitemap is one of the most important aspect for getting indexed.

There will be 2 Sitemaps. The first Sitemap will be located in your site. which will guide the Search bots to all your links when they actually visit. Also that acts as a guide to your site Visitors.(if they are lost in your site)

Now the second sitemap will be the most important one.

Create a Sitemap at

http://www.seotools.kreationstudio.com/xml-sitemap-generator/free_dynamic_xml_sitemap_generator.php

for Google It can be an XML Sitemap (prefered) or text based Sitemap.

5) Once your Sitemaps are ready. Submit the sitemap to Google Sitemap

6) Follow the instruction while submitting your sitemap to Google.. Dont miss any steps there.

That's it.... Wait and Watch in couple of Days how many pages have been indexed by

That's as easy as it looks ...

Kreation Studio offers free seo tools online. take advantage of over 35 free seo tools online the best FREE SEO Tools online and submit FREE Articles to articles.kreationstudio.com

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