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Software developers to get new XML standard

A technology standards body expects to pass a new XML-related standard by next month that will allow software development teams to collaborate via the Web.

    The Object Management Group today said it expects to pass a new XML-related standard by next month that will allow software development teams to collaborate via the Internet.

    XML, or Extensible Markup Language, essentially lets programmers exchange information over the Web. A new extension called XMI, or the XML Metadata Interchange Format, allows developers to use tools from different vendors to build object-based applications.

    "The process is moving very smoothly. There are no votes against it," OMG chief executive Richard Solely said today. "We can expect implementations of this at the same time the final edited version [of the standard] is available."

    A group of 29 software companies, including IBM, Oracle, and Unisys, presented the proposed standard in November to the OMG, a technology standards body.

    The voting process will last through March. Out of about 100 potential voters, 40 already have voted in favor and four have abstained, said IBM software architect Stephen Brodsky.

    Brodsky said XMI--which also could be used for data warehousing--will allow developers to build applications faster and less expensively.

    During a conference call today, Unisys fellow Sridhar Iyengar said his company will add XMI support to existing products this quarter, while Brodsky said his company will announce products soon.

    Giga Information Group analyst Teresa Wingfield said one problem with XMI is that the Meta Data Coalition, a coalition of 47 software firms including Microsoft, is working on a separate standard.

    In December, Microsoft joined the Meta Data Coalition and transferred the rights to maintain and evolve the Microsoft Open Information Model (OIM) to the group. The OIM defines a way to exchange data, using Microsoft technologies including COM as well as SQL and Java.

    Both the OMG and the Meta Data Coalition are careful not to characterize their separate efforts as competition. In fact, the OMG has invited the Meta Data Coalition to its next meeting in March, at which the software coalition will submit its data exchange technology to the standards body, said Katherine Hammer, cochair of the Meta Data Coalition. "The goal is collaboration."

    Wingfield does not expect the meeting between the OMG and the Meta Data Coalition to be fruitful. "The probability of them working together is zero," she said, adding that the separate specifications probably can be bridged by the products, such as those made by repository vendors.

    Companies supporting XMI include Platinum, Rational Software, Sybase, and Xerox.