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A lot has happened since 1998 when the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published its first standard for XML, the Extensible Markup Language. Soon after, they standardized a few more XML core operations like validation, query, transformation and linking.

This week, 12 years after its first standardization, the W3C announced a spec for managing XML-rich processes such as business processes used in enterprise environments.

Standard Framework for XML Processes

The specification XProc: An XML Pipeline Language provides a standard framework for composing XML processes, by leveraging existing technologies widely adopted in the enterprise setting. Such leverage allows for automated streamlining, sequencing and management of complex computations involving XML.

Considered to be a mainstay of enterprise computing that is used to store, transform, and exchange large amount and types of information, the business processes involved are often modeled as a series of operations, each of which includes XML input or output.

Long story short, XML helps companies manage lots of data processes while ensuring that quality controls are met.

Yet, as business processes combine and build on these core operations, there has not been a standard way to describe such sequences. Alternative approaches have been developed, but are not easily shared nor accessible.

How XProc Can be Useful

With Xproc, developers now have a standard way to describe how to combine processes to accomplish any particular task. XProc can be used to sequence the following set of operations: (1) given a news ticker feed (2) whenever a company is mentioned, use a web service to contact a stock exchange then (3) insert current share prices into the feed and (4) insert background information about the company that has been extracted from a database.

As well, the XML feed could be presented in several ways to multiple users including for print or with an interactive form so that people can purchase shares online. Because XProc descriptions are in XML, people can use readily available XML tools to generate, transform, and validate them.

Overall, the W3C has once again helped to produce a standard that allows for developers to create interoperability and streamline the XML process. XProc is supported by a test suite that covers all of the required and optional steps of the language as well as all the static and dynamic errors. Learn more at http://xproc.org.