Saturday, November 01, 2008

On-demand books for learning

Michael Porteous from Pearson Education Australia sent me a copy of "E-Commerce Enabling Technologies", to see if it would be suitable for an e-commerce course. Apart from the useful content, this slim textbook (143 pages), is interesting for the way it was produced.

The book is by Boualem Benatallah and Fethi Rabhi (both from, University of New South Wales) and Hye Young Paik, (Queensland University of Technology). It appears to have evolved from a set of lecture notes on e-commerce technology, and provides a good detailed guide to using XML and related technology for business and related applications.

The book is an A4 format paperback, from Pearson's SprintPrint service, for on-demand text book production. Judging by the fonts and layout of the book, the content has been produced using LaTex and then printed with a standard cover. This way an author, particularly one familiar with computers, can quickly produce a reasonably professional looking book.

One challenge from this approach is that this came content could be provided in electronic format online as well. The same LaTex file used to generate the printed book can be used to create an e-Book and a set of web pages, suitable for placing on the web, or in a Learning Management System. However, if this is done, difficult questions of intellectual property rights arise. The authors of this book are from universities funded by the Australian Government, so why should students of such institutions have to pay to receive a copy of this work? Why not make the electronic version free online?
E-Commerce Enabling Technologies

Australian produced title
Boualem Benatallah , University of New South Wales Fethi Rabhi , University of New South Wales Hye Young Paik , Queensland University of Technology

ISBN: 9780733970207
ISBN10: 0733970206
RRP inc. GST: $59.95
Published: 12/07/2004
Format: Paperback


E-Commerce Enabling Technologies 4e assumes that students have a basic knowledge in programming and are familiar with general computing concepts. It covers a broad range of e-commerce technologies with a coherent and complete view of state-of-the-art technologies.

This edition presents a balanced view of the e-commerce revolution on existing management and business practices with the technologies that are involved, and is a cross disciplinary text that can be used in both Business and IT courses (BIS & CIS crossover).

It is also suitable for technical IT staff, which requires an update of recent developments and the experienced computer academic who wonders Whats this e-commerce fuss all about?

New to This Edition

· Chapter 2 Development of Applications for the Web has been enhanced to give students a better understanding of this expanding area.
· Chapter 6 Introduction to XML is covered in a more coherent and student friendly way for easier learning.
· Chapter 9 E-Catalogs gives students a simple and comprehensive look at a new area of development in the BIS/CIS area.

Features and Benefits

· More practical programming examples so students can put what they learn into practice.
· End of Chapter pointers to give students more information on particular topics.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: E-commerce Models, Architectures and Systems
2 Development of Applications for the Web
3 Distributed Objects for the Web
4 Java for Enterprises
5 Data Access
6 Introduction to XML
7 Web Services
8 B2B Integration Frameworks
9 E-Catalogs
10 Case Study: Online Securities Trading

About the Authors

Boualem Benatallah, School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales has a background in the area of databases and Web applications. His latest interest is in the integration of Web-accessible data sources and services.

Fethi Rabhi, School of Information Systems, University of New South Wales has a background in concurrent and distributed processing with the view that e-commerce applications are complex systems of interacting entities and where issues of communication semantics and languages are paramount.

Helen Paik, School of Information Systems, Queensland University of Technology is part of the new wave of academics who are strongly grounded in novel Internet/Web technologies and experienced in working for industry (IBM Global Services in this case).

From:Description of "E-Commerce Enabling Technologies", Pearson Education Australia, 2008

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Australian Open Source Disaster Management Software Released

Renato Iannella from NICTA has announced that they have released open source software for disaster management: Cooperative Alert Information and Resource Notification System (CAIRNS). This is intended to demonstrate interoperability of Crisis Information Management Systems (CIMS). It uses XML standards: Emergency Data Exchange Language Distribution Element (EDXL-DE), Emergency Data Exchange Language Resource Messaging (EDXL-RM) and Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Technical comparison of ODF and OOXML formats

For some lectures on e-document formats, I was looking to do a comparison of the technical features of the ODF and OOXML document formats. I came across an ODF/OOXML technical white paper by Edward Macnaghten. This is a useful comparison with good detailed analysis using the same documents marked up in the two formats.

Macnaghten points out that ODF makes more use of existing XML and other international standards, whereas OOXML tried to maintain compatibility with Microsoft Office features. An example of this is that ODF uses ISO standard format for dates, whereas OOXML uses an quirky Microsoft format. He also points out that ODF is more verbose than OOXML with its markup, but this makes for a more standard logical structure and the size of the file will be taken care of by the compression used by both formats.

However, I don't agree with the introduction which claims ODF was developed as a vendor neutral standard, whereas OOXML was by Microsoft. As explained later, ODF was derived from the format of Sun's StarOffice product. The details of how this was done are more visible than Microsoft's development of OOXML. But both ODF and OOXML were adapted from existing office product formats.

Both ODF and OOXML suffer from a lack of compatibility with the common web format: HTML. You can't simply open a word processing or presentation document in a web browser, it has to be converted in some way first. The obvious way to do this would be to base the word processing and presentation formats on XHTML. That way the documents could be made compatible with web browsers. It would be much more difficult to use XHTML for the spreadsheet format and there isn't a really good reason to do that.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

NZ XML Governance Framework for Interoperability

Standards New Zealand have issued three Draft Standards on electronic interoperability of information using XML for government systems: Commenrs close 09/05/2008:
  1. XML Governance Framework: Principles
  2. XML Governance Framework: Operational guide
  3. XML Governance Framwork: Communities guide
It is not clear to me why NZ needs its own standards for XML interoperability, as this would make them non-interoperable with the rest of the world.

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