Ever since developers first introduced the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Java to each other in early 1998, this pair has become the industry’s hottest couple, making combined appearances in tools and applications with increasing regularity.

In hindsight, it seems obvious that a cross-platform programming language and a cross-platform structured data format would work well together. Jon Bosak, chairman of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) XML Working Group and an on-line IT architect at Sun Microsystems, takes credit for introducing the two technologies, noting how much better Java’s disposition became after meeting XML.

“XML gives Java something to do,” Bosak said in what became an oft-quoted remark in 1998.

These days, more and more industry heavyweights — including Microsoft, DataChannel, IBM, and Lotus — are pairing up the two technologies. Microsoft and DataChannel in late December announced the second beta release of their co-developed XML parser written in Java. And IBM and Lotus delivered the LotusXSL processor, which includes the Extensible Style Language (XSL) specification. This processor, available as a JavaBean, emerged from work done in IBM’s alphaWorks division.

The Microsoft/DataChannel parser, named XJ2, contains a higher-performance, validating XML engine than the previous version, support for Extensible Query Language (XQL), and data transformations through XSL.

The LotusXSL processor enables developers to apply style sheets to XML data in order to transform or display the data, according to officials at both companies. The XQL support allows querying of information within an XML document, the officials said.

The parser also fully supports the W3C’s Document Object Model recommended proposal, in addition to XML schemas, which define the elements within an XML data set. The parser can also run on the server to enable passing data across disparate servers and platforms.

Meanwhile, IBM and Lotus in late December focused their efforts on XSL, the bridging specification designed to link XML data to other output formats. XSL can transform XML into HTML by applying a style sheet to the XML document, according to officials at both companies.

The processor is available as a JavaBean for use in client/server applications, and as an applet for use in Web browsers.

The Microsoft/DataChannel parser can be downloaded from www.datachannel.com/xml. The LotusXSL processor is available at www.alphaworks.ibm.com.

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