Apache to create XML tools
By Wylie Wong
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
November 8, 1999, 7:10 a.m. PT
The Apache Software Foundation, a nonprofit organization that builds
free Web technology, is now turning
its attention to Extensible Markup Language, an increasingly important
Web technology, with the help of
IBM and Sun Microsystems.
Apache plans to develop new Extensible Markup Language (XML) tools with
technology donated by IBM, Sun,
other tech firms, and independent software developers. The group plans
to launch the new effort--called the
Their goal is to further drive the adoption of XML, a popular Web
standard for exchanging data, by making tools
that are "open source," meaning every software developer can view the
source code, modify it, and use it for
XML is touted as a language that will revolutionize information
exchange, much the same way HTML has
defined Web pages.
XML is the latest technology to join the open source movement. The
source code for Netscape Navigator and
the Linux operating system, for example, are available free. Apache is
best known for its popular open-source
Web server, technology that delivers Web pages to users' browsers.
IBM and Sun Microsystems have donated their XML parsers for the new
effort. 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 xml.apache.org project is open to every developer or company, but
Microsoft--which has its own XML
tools--has not joined the effort. Industry observers fear the company
is trying to use XML to their advantage, but
Microsoft executives have scoffed at the notion, saying they support
open industry standards.
As part of the Apache effort, Lotus and two independent software
developers are giving away their Extensible
StyleSheet Language (XSL) technology, which lets users define how a
document is presented, specifying color,
font, or font size. The LotusXSL processor tool, for example, allows
XML documents to link to other documents
that are based on XML, HTML, or other formats. Independent software
developers and other firms, including
DataChannel and Bowstreet, are also contributing their XML technology
to the effort.
Apache will collect all the technology and improve it where necessary,
said Apache president Brian Behlendorf.
For example, in its first project, the organization will take the best
features of IBM and Sun's XML parsers and
meld them into one product.
"We're planting a lot of seeds. These companies are each contributing a
seed with the hope that they become
flowers, vegetables, and a combination of different things," Behlendorf
said. "We're integrating the different
tools and trying to build a tool that has the best features of all of
Marie Wieck, IBM's director of XML technology, believes Apache's
efforts will give software developers the tools
they need to build XML into their Web sites and business software, so
they can better exchange data with their
customers, partners, and suppliers.
"Developers who want to engage directly with this technology will have
the vehicle to do that," she said.
Nancy Lee, Sun's senior product manager for XML, added that Apache's
efforts will complement the World Wide
Web Consortium's standards push for XML.
"The significance of this is huge," she said. "We helped create the XML
specifications. And Apache will deliver
the actual implementations. You'll have free, vendor-neutral software."