RE: Help for XML

Subject: RE: Help for XML
From: "John Locke" <mail -at- freelock -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 11:08:50 -0800


The basic ways I've run across for receiving an XML document have been:
* In response to an https: request, from a web server
* Through a dedicated connection to a socket on a server, using TCP, from
some other type of server (again, you'd want this to be encrypted somehow)
* Sent through e-mail (this can be more automated than it sounds--you can
have a script trigger when the e-mail arrives, checks to see if it's the
recognized XML document, and if it is, parse and insert the information)
* Through any other kind of direct serial connection (well, I haven't used
this, but there's no technical reason you couldn't)

Each of these have special tools and methods for translating the XML block
into the target format. You're going to want to describe the schema/dtd for
the XML you will send, and then at the other end, they'll need to translate
it. Unless they are as keen as you on the idea, you're probably going to
meet some resistance here...

You've probably already checked this out, but you're asking for advice, so
here I go: Before undertaking an effort to provide XML to your customers,
I'd want to be sure they knew what to do with it, and wanted to do it that
way. I would first provide electronic invoices meant for human
consumption--e-mails, a secure web site, etc.. Only after providing all
this, should you provide an XML interface--and you should not make it
mandatory. Just let your customers/clients know you can give them the
option, and let them come to you asking how to implement it. And don't
forget to satisfy security requirements!

Aside from those concerns, however, I'm familiar with two approaches for
translating an XML block to another format:

1. Using XSLT (eXtensible Stylesheet Language-Transformations)--requires
some sort of engine that understands XSLT, and generates a document of
(nearly) any format. This is similar to working with regular expressions,
creating specified output from specified input.
2. Using JavaScript and the DOM (Document Object Model)--slightly more
cumbersome, but more common method. You could use any programming language
or script, actually. This is similar to working with SQL, and in fact, most
of what I've seen of this method involves extracting the data from the XML
block to generate a SQL INSERT or UPDATE query. The advantage of this method
is you can send different data in different directions.

Without learning more about your project, that's what I can think of off the
top of my head. Hope that helps!

John Locke

> Christensen, Kent wrote:
> I'm writing up a manual for a process for suppliers and customers to
> send/receive invoices using XML. Have found a good bunch of
> material on the
> WWW about XML in general but hardly a thing regarding actually
> receiving XML
> and then porting the information to an accounting system. (It
> could be any
> kind of system.) Anyone seen/done anything like this? Have
> advice or tips
> for me?

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