W3C For Immediate Release

New W3C Standard Defines Way to Organize and Share XML Workflows

XProc (XML Pipeline) Replaces Ad-Hoc Approaches

http://www.w3.org/ — 11 May 2010 — Today W3C announced a powerful tool for managing XML-rich processes such as business processes used in enterprise environments. The specification "XProc: An XML Pipeline Language," provides a standard framework for composing XML processes. XProc streamlines the automation, sequencing and management of complex computations involving XML by leveraging existing technologies widely adopted in the enterprise setting.

XProc Helps Organize Processes using Standard Descriptions

XML, the Extensible Markup Language, is a mainstay of contemporary enterprise computing that is used to store, transform, and exchange an enormous range of information, from tax returns to fuel tank levels. Many business processes can be modeled as a series of operations, each of which involves XML input or output. Companies use these models for many purposes, such as ensuring quality controls are met or assembling compliance reports.

W3C published the first XML standard in 1998. Since then W3C has standardized a number of core operations on XML including validation (Schema languages), query (XQuery), transformation (XSLT), and linking (XLink). Business processes combine and build on these core operations, but there has been no standard to describe such sequences. Instead, ad-hoc solutions have been used, which are not easily shared (e.g., with others in a supply chain) and do not leverage widely deployed tools or support.

"XML is tremendously versatile," said Norman Walsh, MarkLogic, and one of the co-editors of the specification. "Just off the top of my head, I can name standard ways to store, validate, query, transform, include, label, and link XML. What we haven't had is any standard way to describe how to combine them to accomplish any particular task. That's what XProc provides."

XProc can be used, for example, to sequence the following set of operations: (1) given a news ticker feed (2) whenever a company is mentioned, use a Web service to contact a stock exchange then (3) insert current share prices into the feed and (4) insert background information about the company that has been extracted from a database. In addition, this enhanced feed could be presented in several ways to multiple users including (5) for print or (6) with an interactive form so that people can purchase shares online. In this scenario, XProc controls a number of processes that might be implemented using other standards such as XQuery, XSLT, XSLT-FO, XForms, and HTML.

XProc is XML; Benefits from Existing XML Infrastructure

Because XProc descriptions are in XML, people can use readily available XML tools to generate, transform, and validate them.

"Processing XML as XML is a hugely powerful design pattern, and XProc makes this easy and attractive," said Henry Thompson, University of Edinburgh and one of the co-editors of the specification. "XProc exemplifies what W3C does best: we looked at existing practice — people have been using a number of similar-but-different XML-based languages — and we produced a consensus standard, creating interoperability and critical mass."

XProc is supported by a test suite that covers all of the required and optional steps of the language as well as all the static and dynamic errors.

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 350 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/

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