Oracle Portal-to-Go // some HP WAP & e-speak PRs too

Rohit Khare (
Tue, 21 Dec 1999 01:52:26 -0800

[you can skip this message if you're not interested in vaporous
propaganda... RK]

Other random bits: HP posted an encrypted PDF-only press release
(morons!) about their integration of OpenMail with WAP under codename
WOMBAT back in June 1999: Wait.. found text
online. attached at end.

At the end of this mail is a piece on HP/Verifone's WAP e-cash-card /
handheld ATM pilot in Ireland.

No information yet on HP's "PC WAP server". Anyone? Anyone?

Hey, Adam, recognize that HP e-speak GM? Some guy named Rajiv...
there's a pilot with Telia for field repair event notification...

Otherwise, on to some excerpted technical bits from Oracle's
Portal-to-Go. See the full version with graphics at:


Using XML in Oracle Database Applications
Part 3: Customizing Data Presentation

November 1999In Part 1, we introduced you to XML. In Part 2, we
described Oracle products that support using XML in database
applications. In this document, we describe how to use XML and Oracle
XML products to customize presentation of data.


There are many ways to customize data presented to client on the web.
Traditional approaches, like CGI programming, and more recent
developments, like JavaServer Pages with database connection tags,
make it possible to generate web pages built from both static content
and dynamic data retrieved from a database. While these approaches
have their merits, using XML data for dynamic content offers a
distinct advantage since the data is separate from its presentation.
This means that you can use the same XML document to present data to
a variety of target client devices, browsers, and users without
additional programming. You selectively apply different XSL
stylesheets to the XML document transforming the data into the
appropriate format, based on client and user-specified parameters. A
web designer can easily change the presentation of the data by
editing the XSL text files. No programming required.

For example, Oracle's Portal-To-Go uses XML and XSL to dynamically
transform Internet content to various mobile device formats,
including PDAs, Windows CE devices, and mobile phones. Portal-To-Go
converts Internet content to a generic XML format, and then uses XSL
to transform the data into generic HTML or device-specific formats,
including WML for mobile phones, HDML, TTML, or VoxML for IVR
(Interactive Voice Response) systems.

Under the Hood: Using the XSQL Servlet

Oracle's XSQL Servlet enables you to generate dynamic web content and
customize its presentation. As described in Part 2, this servlet
processes SQL queries embedded within a special XSQL XML file
(.xsql), and returns the results in XML format. The servlet uses the
XML SQL Utility and the XML Parser for Java to process the SQL
queries, query the database, obtain database results, and optionally
transform the data into any format using XSL stylesheets. Using the
XSLT Processor and a series of XSL stylesheets, we can transform
static and dynamic XML data for presentation on a variety of clients,
including digital cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs),
and various graphical and non-graphical browsers. The following
figure shows the general process.

A more general scenario is shown below. Here, a user enters a URL in
a browser that points to an XML .xsql file. This file contains
embedded queries and other information such as a database connection
alias, references to possible XSL stylesheets, and so on. This .xsql
file is parsed and processed by the XSQL Servlet, which sends any SQL
queries in the file to the underlying XML SQL Utility which passes it
to the Oracle8i database via JDBC. The database returns the query
results to XML SQL Utility, which wraps the data in its schema
creating the XML result returned to the servlet. If an XSL stylesheet
is specified, the query results and any other XML data are
transformed. Lastly, the servlet passes the completed document back
to the client browser for presentation to the user.

Certainly one of the most powerful uses of XML is data transformation
by XSL stylesheets. In an XSQL file, you can specify more than one
stylesheet to conform to different browsers or client devices. If
more than one is present, the XSLT Processor will selectively apply
the appropriate stylesheet based on the type of client that made the
original URL request and an optional media pseudo-attribute. The XSQL
Servlet determines the client type through an HTTP_USER_AGENT
request. You can also specify a client pseudo-attribute to instruct
the XSQL Servlet to download the raw XML to the client for
processing. In addition, you can explicitly set the MIME type of the
returned content. This is useful for targeting output to different
users and different client devices. Here is an example of a series of
XSL stylesheet tags that use these features:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" media="lynx" href="rowcol_lynx.xsl" ?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" media="msie 5.0" client="yes"
href="rowcol-ie5.xsl" ?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="rowcol.xsl" ?>

In this case, rowcol_lynx.xsl transforms documents for Lynx browsers
on the server-side. Rowcol-ie5.xsl transforms documents for Internet
Explorer 5.0. Here, the XML transformations are performed on the
client by the browser since IE5 has this capability. For all other
browsers, rowcol.xsl is used to transform the document in the server.

You also have the option of supplying the XSL stylesheet using the
URL parameter xml-stylesheet.

Another scenario involves translations of a document into foreign
languages. For example, assuming that a document contains a number of
independent sections that are translated into foreign languages and
are updated individually. Example tags for this scenario might be
something like this:

<section id="1" language="english"> In part 1, we introduced...</section>
<section id="1" language="french"> Dans la premiere section, on a
<section id="2" language="english">There are many ways...</section>
<section id="2" language="french">Il y a differentes methodes...</section>

By incorporating this data into a database, you can selectively query
based on a particular language and dynamically build the translated
XML document for regional sites.

A similar approach can be used for configuring hardware. Here, you
could tag configuration and installation instructions for each
specific hardware configuration:

<intro>To configure your PC, start by...</intro>
<modem type="internal">To configure your internal modem, start by...</modem>
<modem type="external">To configure your external modem, start by...</modem>

By incorporating this data into a database, you can selectively query
based on a particular hardware configuration. For example, on the
vendor's web site, you could easily format and deliver instructions
customized for the customer's exact hardware configuration.

Client-Side Versus Server-Side XSL Processing

You can use the client pseudo-attribute in the xml-stylesheet tag
within an XSQL document to perform XSL transformation processing on
the client instead of the server. Presently, Internet Explorer 5.0
supports this kind of client-side XML processing, while other
browsers do not. What are the tradeoffs for choosing client-side
versus server-side processing? To some extent, which approach you
choose depends on the nature of the queries you are performing. In
general, it is better to do XML transformations on the server,
because it is closer to the data and the server's processing power.
Since Oracle's XSLT Processor is built into the XML Parser for Java,
XSL transformations are very fast. Running the parser within
Oracle8i's Java VM (or Oracle's OAS) makes the process even more
efficient. On the other hand, if server resources are needed more
elsewhere, you can perform the transformations on the client to free
up the server's processing power. Downloading the XML and XSL
documents to the client for processing also makes them available to
the client's cache. So, if other processes or situations reuse these
files, the data will not have to be reloaded from the server.

Choosing a Runtime Model

There are various runtime models you can use when designing an
XML-based application to generate dynamic web pages from a database.
The following are a few suggestions.

Batch Runtime

Even for static web sites, it can be advantageous to build them out
of a database using XML. This approach makes it easy to change the
look and feel of the web site simply by changing the XSL stylesheet.
Since the data for the site can be stored in a database, it also has
the advantage of being more easily maintained. This runtime model
uses a batch process to query the database, generate the data in XML,
transform the data using an XSL stylesheet, and write it to a static
file. This model uses various XSL stylesheets that are designed for
specific clients, such as graphical and non-graphical browsers, or
XML-enabled browsers, such as Internet Explorer 5.0. This model
assumes that the format of the pages presented is based only on the
client being used, and not on user preferences or other personalized
information. When the user queries the page, the pre-built static
page is served up directly from the file system, which is fast and
efficient. This model is appropriate when the data changes relatively
infrequently and there are a large number of queries.

Dynamic Data Runtime

Similar to the batch runtime model, the Dynamic Data Runtime model
uses a process to query the database, generate the data in XML,
transform the data using an XSL stylesheet, and write it to a static
file. However, the data retrieved are based on user selections and
perhaps other personalized information. The XSL stylesheets used are
based not only on the target client, but also on the kind of data the
user requests. For example, perhaps the user chooses a category of
information to be displayed, such as Reference or Fiction for a
bookseller application. Which category the user chooses might
determine how the retrieved data is presented.
This model enables storing personalization data for each individual
user in its own set of tables or in a cookie. When the user accesses
the page, the appropriate static page is displayed. The advantage of
this system is that it displays a dynamic-looking home page without
the overhead of actually building the home page dynamically each time
the home page is displayed. This is appropriate when the dynamic data
does not change too frequently, and when there are not too many
different permutations that need to be generated.

Dynamic Document Runtime

In this model, the page is built dynamically, directly out of the
database. Like the dynamic data runtime model, this model uses
personalization data from the user, such as category or item
selections. However, instead of displaying a static page, the process
executes SQL queries, obtains the results, and builds the page
dynamically based on the result set returned from the database and
XSL stylesheets, which transform the data. This model is appropriate
for data that changes very frequently, such as pages that display
live information like stock quotes.

Author: Brad Wait, Oracle Corporation
Date: November 1999


HP's VeriFone Division Expands Technology for Wireless E-services Market

VeriSmart Wireless Application Protocol Interface Enables Secure
Mobile E-commerce

Palo Alto, Calif., Oct. 11, 1999

Hewlett-Packard Company today announced that its VeriFone division
has integrated a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) interface into
its VeriSmart e-commerce software for one of the world's first WAP
project in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland.

Hosted by eircom, Ireland's leading telecommunications provider, the
Ennis Information Age Town project will run through April 2000 and
will test and implement integrated information-age telecommunications
technology. eircom has been implementing VeriSmart technology and
VeriFone's Personal ATM appliances to reload VisaCash stored-value
cards. As part of the Ennis project, eircom recently announced the
expansion of its service to include reload of VisaCash cards over
WAP-based mobile phones using VeriSmart software.

"eircom is happy to have worked with HP's VeriFone division in
adapting its VeriSmart technology for this first e-commerce
application of its type in the wireless world," said Fiona Tierney,
head of Card and Payphone Services for eircom. "It demonstrates the
flexibility of the VeriSmart platform."

Through the implementation of VeriSmart WAP software by eircom, Bank
of Ireland plans to give VisaCash cardholders the ability to load
value to their cards -- via WAP mobile phones -- to pay for low-value
everyday items, including parking and telephone calls. Soon WAP
technology will enable people to access and navigate the Internet
using a mobile phone and browse information such as news, travel
services, entertainment and weather.

"Secure payment solutions are required to effectively conduct mobile
e-commerce," said Ulf Beyschlag, HP's worldwide program manager,
Mobile E-Services Communications Industry. "The VeriFone software
will play an important role in expanding the breadth of secure mobile
e-commerce applications worldwide."


HP, Ericsson and Telia Cooperate in WAP E-speak E-services Pilot Project
Palo Alto, Calif., Stockholm, Sweden, Nov. 9, 1999

Hewlett-Packard Company, Ericsson and Telia will co-operate in a
joint pilot project to run Wireless Access Protocol (WAP)-based
mobile Internet e-services on HP's e-speak platform.

E-speak is designed to dramatically simplify the creation, delivery
and navigation of e-services. HP's e-speak is developed as an open,
standards-based platform for the creation, composition, mediation,
management and access of Internet-based services. The platform will
be available to any device, mobile or wireline.

In the pilot project now underway, Telia will deploy HP's e-speak
platform in its mobile network. Ericsson is contributing with its
industry-leading WAP solutions, applications development and
WAP-enabled terminals.

Following the pilot project, the three companies plan to launch the
first of a series of e-speak-enabled wireless e-services, an
automated scheduling service and a corporate directory service by
mid-year 2000 to a select group of medium-sized engineering firms
that maintain fleets of field engineers. Using WAP phones and
GSM-based positioning, the field engineers will be able to receive
and update customer job information while on the road, as well as
access corporate phone and database directories. With the new
e-speak-enabled, WAP-based e-services, corporate databases will still
remain behind firewalls.

"E-services over the mobile Internet are poised on the brink of a
huge growth explosion," said Jan Lindgren, vice president and general
manager of Mobile Internet Solutions at Ericsson GSM Systems.
"Leveraging its core competencies across a number of important
disciplines, Ericsson is an industry leader in developing service
enablers and applications. Ericsson's leadership in WAP is but one
example. The mobile Internet will be built on open standards to
ensure a large, interoperable base of applications and services. As
such, Ericsson is pleased to team with HP and Telia in further
developing the e-speak universal, open services platform for

E-speak allows spontaneous, ad hoc and secure interactions across
firewalls without pre-negotiated names and standards. E-speak can be
developed using practically any programming language and will be
distributed at little or no cost to developers via the Internet.

"E-speak is aimed at becoming the foundation from which e-services
will operate, dramatically reducing the time, cost and effort
required to create, deploy and manage e-services over the Internet,"
said Rajiv Gupta, general manager of HP's Open Services Operations
and lead architect of the e-speak technology. "We expect e-speak to
become the lingua franca of e-services over the Web, providing a
universal interface that will allow e-services to interoperate
dynamically. We think e-speak will do for e-services what the Web did
for data.".


HP Announces "Project Wombat": WAP Support In OpenMail
First With Demonstrable Product; Secure, Highly Customizable; Open
Developer Access

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., June 25, 1999. HP has successfully
demonstrated user access to corporate e-mail from a WAP-enabled
mobile phone (WAP stands for Wireless Application Protocol). HP
believes they are the first vendor to show this capability, the first
to bring it to market, and the first to provide open access to the

Code-named "WOMbat", this technology will provide easy WAP access
forbusiness messaging users. WOMbat will be demonstrated at this
month'sWAP Forum meeting.
Convergence of voice and e-mail to a single handheld device is
acritical step in bringing unified messaging to business users. With
WOMbat and a WAP-capable wireless device such as the Nokia 7110 or
Ericsson R380 mobile phones, OpenMail users will be able to read and
send e-mail from almost anywhere.

WOMbat is based on HP's proven and successful web access technology,
which supports wireless Windows CE and PalmOS handhelds as well as
standard browsers. WOMbat will complement HP's existing SMS/pager
capabilities (SMS stands for Short Message Service). These were both
first shipped in 1997 - also industry firsts for OpenMail (in
addition to being first with WAP access).

"This announcement underscores the inherent flexibility of the
OpenMail solution," said Nigel Upton, general manager of HP's
OpenMail Operation. "Our customers value the high level of
customizability and investment-protection provided by OpenMail. We
recently demonstrated WOMbat to a meeting of 60 OpenMail customers,
who were very excited by the possibilities that it will provide.