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Introduction - Why WAP?

WML

XML

The Oracle XDK

An Example Application

Our first XSQL Page

Browser Sensitivity

A WML Stylesheet

WML Output

An HTML Stylesheet

Conclusion and Resources

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eXtensible Markup Language

Living in the uncertain development environment created by rapid implementation of new devices, applications and file formats, it's a relief to witness the growing acceptance of XML as the data exchange format of the future. There is a wealth of information available on the internet concerning XML and I have included some key links in the Resources section, but here are a few of the many positive attributes of XML that I think will prove particularly important.

  • It's a W3C standard and offers the possibility that everyone will be able to communicate more effectively over the internet in future by providing a rigorous, well-defined but extensible model to build new dialects. It sometimes helps me to think of XML as a kind of TCP/IP, HTTP or SQL for textual data, with a similar potential to accelerate the benefits that we extract from our use of computers.
  • It makes meaning more transparent so that mobile agents will be able to operate in a more structured arena and make more intelligent decisions. As a veteran of data extract and load routines, it even offers certain benefits for that type of application.
  • It separates presentation from data which will become more important as alternative access methods are used by users, depending on their location and needs. Despite the best efforts of previous mark-up languages their limitations have led to the need for more and more proprietary extensions.
  • The last attribute is of most interest to developers of web sites that need to deliver data in multiple formats. By using XML and XSL in combination, we are afforded a form of insurance against future browser developments; are able to implement multiple presentation formats for the same data; and allow our users more flexibility in how their data is formatted, without changing the underlying code that retrieves the data.

    By developing our services so that all our content is generated and stored in XML format, we can delay decisions about the device presentation aspects until immediately prior to delivery. As the standards change and develop, we modify or add stylesheets that the XSL Transformation processor uses to generate the final content without affecting our underlying database access code. There will also be opportunities in future to offload some of the processing load used to render the output to the client device as XSL transformation facilities are built in to client software.

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