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IBM unveils XML tools, Web site

The company has created free tools and a new Web site to help developers use the Extensible Markup Language (XML).

IBM has created free tools and a new Web site to help developers use the Extensible Markup Language (XML).

XML promises to help developers more easily share data and documents on the Web and on corporate networks.

Because of high demand by developers, IBM today released an XML parser for C++. A parser dissects and reads XML text within an application, much like a Web browser reads HTML to generate Web pages on a computer.

Until now, most XML parsers have been built using Java, although one parser, called expat, was previously written in C. Analyst Anne Thomas of the Patricia Seybold Group said the combination of XML and Java makes sense because both technologies are portable, but creating a parser for C++ also makes sense for those who prefer developing in another language.

"There's times when you want to run code on one machine and don't expect to move it around, so it's useful," she said.

Consultant Kevin Dick of Kevin Dick Associates in Palo Alto, California, agreed: "C++ is a widely used language, especially when performance is important. And the whole goal of XML is to exchange documents without knowing what language the documents are using, so it would be nice to have programs other than Java that could access XML."

IBM today also released new security tools that allow XML developers to use digital signatures, different levels of encryption, and access control, said Marie Wieck, IBM's director of XML technology. The encryption technology allows developers to encrypt only portions of a document rather than the entire document.

"It's to provide the level of security you want. The credit card field might be encrypted, while the email address and shipping preference is not encrypted," Wieck said.

Access control allows developers to decide how to give people different levels of access to XML information, she said. The security tools are based on technology being discussed in two standards bodies, the World Wide Web Consortium and the Internet Engineering Task Force, she said.

IBM also created a new search engine, a guide for developers who seek information, tutorials, and bulletin board postings on XML technology. The XML parser and security tools are available on IBM's AlphaWorks Web site.

In other XML news, Bluestone Software today began shipping Bluestone XML-Contact for 3Com's Palm Computing devices. The XML technology will allow PalmPilot users to exchange information with corporate databases.

DataChannel today also announced that in June it will ship an XML-based database that was codeveloped with Software AG.