A look into the “Publishing/Print” page at XML.org references DocBook, Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), and Job Definition Format (JDF) among others. An important initiative here is the ONIX International DTD. Many book wholesalers and retailers including Amazon and Ingram have adopted it. “Onix International is the international standard for representing and communicating book industry product information in electronic form, incorporating the core content which has been specified in national initiatives such as BIC Basic and AAP’s ONIX Version.”
Much of this information has been captured for years using AACRII and communicated in electronic form using MARC. The book industry has additional requirements in creating and facilitating commerce that libraries do not. Libraries have their own needs. The Library of Congress is helping to develop Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) and Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard (METS). MODS is an XML schema for a bibliographic element set and will carry “selected data from existing MARC 21 records.” METS is an XML schema for “encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata regarding objects within a digital library.” MODS deals with just bibliographic information. METS would be used to encode an entire digital book, for example, and could use MODS for the book’s bibliographic information. The Library of Congress has recently released both schemas for comment.
What can you do with XML? What can’t you do with XML? Data Harmony, Inc. (www.dataharmony.com) developed a complete database management system around XML. The product is called XIS, for XML Intranet Management System. It uses a hierarchy of XML schema to drive the system. Written in Java, it employs a system level XML schema that articulates all of the operations needed for creating a structured, textual database. Each database application is defined in a project level schema. The project level schema contains the processing instructions to markup the document instance. The document instance is stored and processed as an XML object. That is, the XIS database management system stores data in XML, rather than relying on a proprietary markup as do most database management systems. This provides tremendous flexibility and yet, great control over database operations.
Using ONIX, a book buyer could receive an ONIX document instance that contains information about the dimensions and weight of a book they’re considering ordering. Because ONIX is a published XML schema, the buyer can have their computer programmed to read the ONIX document instance and calculate the weight and cubic feet for an order of one thousand units. This can be very valuable and a great timesaver.
Without standard markup, Internet commerce won’t happen. Your ability to transmit your commercial databases will be greatly enhanced. It frees your data from legacy hardware and software. It allows you to develop efficiently and rapidly new products and services, generating new revenue streams. Lower operating costs; new revenue streams? Worth thinking about!