IBM, Sun donate XML to Apache Foundation

IBM, Sun Microsystems and a cabal of other vendors last week donated Extensible Markup Language (XML) utilities to the Apache open-source fold, bolstering the options available to developers who want to build new features into their applications.

Noted as a key standard to allow Web applications to interchange data, XML continues to gain support in the industry. The Apache Software Foundation acts as the repository for Apache's open-source code. Its president, Brian Behlendorf, said the US-based organisation's aim is broader than merely adding XML support to the Apache Web server.

`There's been a lot of activity in the open-source community around XML,' he said. `What we wanted to do was combine the best of all worlds and build a set of reference libraries, parsers and applications around XML - the idea being that we could help enforce the XML standards process by saying, 'Here's a common tool set everyone can use'.'

IBM and Sun contributed XML parsing utilities, while Lotus Development donated its Extensible StyleSheet Language transformation engine for translating between XML documents and other documents. Three more US-based software vendors, DataChannel, Bowstreet Software and Exoffice Technologies, gave XML data-access, formatting and printing utilities, respectively.

By donating the new code offerings, vendors hope to curry the favour of Apache developers as XML usage grows, analysts said.

`This is a very serious battle for developer hearts and minds,' said Martin Marshall, an industry analyst at Zona Research. `The issue still being debated over XML is, how vendor-neutral is it? It appears that proprietary paths are appearing.'

Phil Costa, an analyst at US-based Giga Information Group, noted that the open-source XML parsers had already been available.

`Given that Apache is the most prevalent server on the Internet, it's sort of an obvious direction for [the Apache Software Foundation], to incorporate XML as part of that [Web environment],' Costa said.

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