XMLNews Technical Overview

Copyright (c) 1999 by XMLNews.org. Free redistribution permitted.

This document introduces XMLNews, a set of specifications for exchanging news and information using open Web and Industry standards.

If you are a news provider, the XMLNews specifications let you target more customers and add value to news and information before it goes out the door.

If you are a news distributor, either in the new Web media or in the traditional print and broadcast media, the XMLNews specifications can make it easier for you to get the news from the wire to your customers.

Currently, XMLNews consists of two parts:

  1. XMLNews-Story defines the content of textual news stories; and

  2. XMLNews-Meta defines a set of metadata information about news objects. You can use XMLNews-Meta to transmit metadata about any kind of news object, whether textual (such as an XMLNews-Story document) or non-textual (such as an image or audio clip) in the same, standard format.

1. A solid foundation of open standards

XMLNews-Meta and XMLNews-Story bring together exciting new open Web and industry standards to allow you to exchange news and information across different software and operating systems.

The starting point for both specifications is XML, the Extensible Markup Language. Most of the major software manufacturers either support or plan to support XML, and there is a large quantity of high-quality freeware and open-source software available, so with XMLNews you can use off-the-shelf software without tying yourself to a single vendor or system. If you are new to XML, you can read the XML Basics tutorial: it contains pointers to other XML information, including the authoritative XML 1.0 Recommendation.

XMLNews-Story is a fully-compatible subset of the 21 September 1998 XML version of the News Industry Text Format (NITF) developed by the International Press Telecommunications Council and the Newspaper Association of America as the new standard for exchanging news stories (replacing the old ANPA 1312 wire format); as a result, every valid XMLNews-Story document is also a valid NITF document.

XMLNews-Meta uses XML together with two other standards from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C):

  1. The Resource Description Framework (RDF) provides the infrastructure for exchanging metadata; and

  2. Namespaces in XML makes it possible for users to invent new metadata properties without interfering with existing software.

2. Portability

Do you want to generate XMLNews-Story articles with Visual Basic on an NT server or write them in WordPerfect on a Windows notebook? Do you want to process XMLNews-Meta records on a Mac using Java, or on a Linux box with Perl? Like TCP/IP, XML lets you move information across different hardware, software, and programming languages easily.

There are free, production-quality XML libraries available for C/C++, Java, Perl, and Python, so that you can move your XMLNews information in and out of databases or render to HTML and other publishing formats. You can even use different languages for different components, and use the XML to share data between them.

Even better, the next generation of web browsers from Microsoft and Netscape supports XML browsing directly, so your users can just point their browsers at an XMLNews-Story article and start reading.

3. Flexibility

The XMLNews specifications are designed to be flexible.

News can arrive in many different forms, including text, pictures, sound, video, virtual, three-dimensional worlds, interactive scripts, or just about anything else that news providers can imagine. Since XMLNews-Meta is separate from the news objects themselves, you can use it as a single, common format to provide metadata for anything coming down the wire. With XMLNews-Meta, you need just one metadata-reader (and one database) to store information about all your news objects.

Providers have different requirements for different stories. When you have to get the news out as fast as possible, XMLNews-Story allows you to send out your news stories with a minimum amount of simple, streamlined markup. When you want to add value to your stories XMLNews-story provides a rich set of inline markup for time and date, organizations, monetary items, people, places, and much more.

Implementing a big specification that you don't need is expensive and frustrating: XMLNews-Story lets you decide exactly how much markup is enough.

4. Extensibility

XMLNews-Meta provides a rich set of properties for exchanging metadata about news objects, and most of the time, those properties will be all that you need.

Sometimes, however, news providers and customers have special requirements. XMLNews-Meta is designed so that you can add your own properties whenever you need to, without fear of interfering with existing software or with extensions added by other users up or down the distribution chain. Using XML Namespaces XMLNews-Meta allows you to prefix property names with URLs, so that your properties are as unique and distinguishable as your company's Web pages.

Do you want to add a new metadata property for sports scores, or for merchandising or advertising links? Go ahead and experiment: you won't break anything.

5. Where to go next

You can return to the XMLNews Home Page to find the latest news about the news.

If you're new to XML and want to learn more before looking at the specs, you can move on to the XML Basics tutorial.

If you'd like to start with a tutorial overview, you can move on to the XMLNews-Meta Tutorial and to the XMLNews-Story Tutorial.

When you're ready to start doing work with XMLNews, you can take a look at the XMLNews-Meta Specification and the XMLNews-Story Specification. The XMLNews-Meta DTD and XMLNews-Story DTD are also available.

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