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Sun, Microsoft release new XML

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems release new Extensible Markup Language (XML) technology that companies can use in business conduct via the Web.

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems today released new Extensible Markup Language (XML) technology that companies can use in business conduct via the Web.

Microsoft today published its BizTalk framework, a set of guidelines that will help tie together the e-commerce systems for different industries, such as banking or manufacturing, by using the XML Web standard for data exchange.

Sun today released technology that links XML and the Java programming language together, allowing software developers to build applications that use both technologies.

Unlike HTML, which has a predefined vocabulary, XML allows developers to define their own vocabulary for data, such as price and product. The result is more efficient data exchange and better Internet searching capabilities.

Microsoft's BizTalk, previously available in draft form, provides a set of guidelines for specific industries to define their XML vocabularies. It also defines a common way businesses can handle and route data to each other.

Industry analysts say BizTalk solves a set of problems that an industrywide consortium called Oasis is also trying to address. Oasis, which includes IBM and Sun, is also seeking to create cross-industry processes for XML usage. While Microsoft is a member of Oasis and takes part in meetings, David Turner, Microsoft's XML product manager, said the company has not decided whether to support the group's efforts.

For its part, Sun today shipped an application programming interface (API) that allows Java developers to support XML in its Java applications.

A common API ensures that XML parsers, built by companies such as Sun, IBM and Microsoft, are all compatible. A parser dissects and reads XML text within an application, much like a Web browser reads HTML to generate Web pages on a computer.

The API, now in beta, will be finalized in the first quarter of 2000. Sun said the API is not part of the core Java standard, but just an extension.

"Many developers creating Java applications just want to start using XML. This makes life easier for developers because they don't have to write the code to connect the parser to the Java application," said Nancy Lee, Sun's senior product manager for XML.