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XML Encoding Rules (XER)

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  1. XML Encoding Rules (XER) Rob Bull bull@crxnet.com

  2. Original Requirements... • An immediate need (Nov. 1998): • An abstract specification of search was needed to respond to the OpenGIS Consortium RFP for Catalog Services - CORBA, COM, Z39.50, SQL, and LDAP) • XML (eXtensible Markup Language) chosen as the notational syntax for the Catalog Services search specification

  3. Basic Concept of XER • Rules to convert between XML and BER (Basic Encoding Rules) for a protocol specified in ASN.1 (Abstract Syntax Notation) • Standardized rules for transforming: • BER encoded structures into equivalent XML structures • XML encoded structures into equivalent BER structures

  4. Scope... • ASN.1 is used in a variety of applications, protocols, and network environments with various encoding rules (e.g., BER, PER, DER) • XML provides a facility for representing character string structures and their markup rules • initial XER focus is Z39.50-1995 (ISO 23950) Search and Retrieval protocol • In the Z39.50 community: • ASN.1 is used with BER • potentially applicable to LDAP (lightgweight directory access protocol) and SNMP (simple network management protocol)

  5. For example... PDU ::= CHOICE{ searchRequest [22] IMPLICIT SearchRequest, searchResponse [23] IMPLICIT SearchResponse, SearchRequest ::= SEQUENCE{ resultSetName [17] IMPLICIT InternationalString, databaseNames [18] IMPLICIT SEQUENCE OF DatabaseName, query [21] Query SearchResponse ::= SEQUENCE{ resultCount [23] IMPLICIT INTEGER, numberOfRecordsReturned [24] IMPLICIT INTEGER, nextResultSetPosition [25] IMPLICIT INTEGER, searchStatus [22] IMPLICIT BOOLEAN, resultSetStatus [26] IMPLICIT INTEGER, records Records OPTIONAL,

  6. XML Encoding: SearchRequest <?xml version='1.0' ?><search xmlns="urn:oid:1.2.840.10003.2.1"> <searchRequest> <resultSetName> 1 </resultSetName> <databaseNames> xxdefault </databaseNames> <query> [ query on next slide ] </query> </searchRequest></search>

  7. XML Encoding: Query Detail <query> <type-1> <rpnQuery> <attributeSet> BIB1 </attributeSet> <rpn> <rpn> [operand next slide] </rpn> <rpn> [operand next slide] </rpn> <operator> AND </operator> </rpn> </rpnQuery> </type-1></query>

  8. XML Encoding: Operand Detail <operand> <attributeValue> CreationDate </attributeValue> <attributeValue> Greater Than or Equal </attributeValue> <attributeValue> Date </attributeValue> <term> 1995-01-01 </term></operand>

  9. XML Encoding: SearchResponse <?xml version='1.0' ?><search xmlns="urn:oid:1.2.840.10003.2.1"> <searchResponse> <resultCount> 76 </resultCount> <numberOfRecordsReturned>0 </numberOfRecordsReturned> <nextResultSetPosition> 0 </nextResultSetPosition> <searchStatus> <true/></searchStatus> </searchResponse></search>

  10. Development Approach... • e-mail list to discuss XER design and issues • Participants/listeners include: • commercial (large, small) • desktop software suppliers, telecoms suppliers • database software suppliers • Z39.50 and ASN.1 toolkit suppliers and consultants • academic • research • Xer syntax and rules have been discussed and a draft set of rules created

  11. Development Approach... • Software developed • Profile for Z39.50 over HTTP discussion paper • Presentation to ASN.1 committee at Geneva in June 1999 • has already spawned interest such as ONE-2 project

  12. Decisions and Proposals... • Three categories of decisions and proposals: • decisions where consensus is reached • proposals that generally affect XER • proposals that specifically affect XER and Z39.50

  13. Consensus Reached... • The XER generated XML should be readily understandable • XER is generally applicable to ASN.1 • XER requires well-formed XML • No distinction between explicit, implicit • encode and decode assumes XER is implicit • applications need to know ASN.1 and can make BER implicit or explicit • ASN.1 1994 has concept of automatic tags

  14. Consensus Reached... • named values as empty elements, so its not: <protocolVersion>version-1, version-2</protocolVersion> • but it is: <protocolVersion><version-1/><version-2/></protocolVersion> • uses XML namespace attribute to identify particular XML • non-validating • some aspects of the XML record structure can be inferred from well-formed values • beyond the inferred structure various methods exist, there is always the base ASN.1 specification for validation

  15. Proposals... • XML namespace decisions • adding private PDUs • how to represent tags for OIDs • Testbed • z39.50 client (BER) • BER/XER gateway (XER) • XER/BER gateway (XER) • Z39.50 server (BER)

  16. Draft XML Encoding Rules 7.1 General rules for encoding7.2 Encoding of a boolean data value7.3 Encoding of an integer data value7.4 Encoding of an enumerated data value7.5 Encoding of a real data value7.6 Encoding of a bitstring data value7.7 Encoding of an octetstring data value7.8 Encoding of a null data value7.9 Encoding of a sequence data value7.10 Encoding of a sequence-of data value7.11 Encoding of a set data value7.12 Encoding of a set-of data value

  17. Draft XML Encoding Rules 7.13 Encoding of a choice data value 7.14 Encoding of a ASN.1 tagged data value 7.15 Encoding of an open type 7.16 Encoding of an instance-of data value 7.17 Encoding of a data value of the embedded-pdv type 7.18 Encoding of an object identifier data value 7.19 Encoding of a data value of the external type 7.20 Encoding for data values of the restricted character string types 7.21 Encoding for data values of the unrestricted character string type 7.22 Encoding for data values of the any character string type 7.23 Encoding for data values of the general string type 7.24 Encoding for data values of the visible character string type

  18. Profile for Z39.50 over HTTP • Discussion paper, second draft, April 1999 • Architectural Issues: • Z39.50 is described in ASN.1 but encoding is via XER • requirement for stateful/stateless applications • stateless - single HTTP request/response sequence comprises an entire Z-association • stateful - a Z-association is maintained across multiple TCP/IP sessions • Z39.50 PDUs will be encapsulated within HTTP protocol messages using the “Search” method

  19. Profile for Z39.50 over HTTP • proposed approaches to mapping HTTP requests and responses to Z39.50 requests and responses • considerations for: • stateful, stateless • Z39.50 state-machine • how do we handle “trickier” services such as access control, resource control, segmentation, trigger resource control

  20. Software Developed so far... • European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy: • On http://perlz.jrc.it/ a library for handling XER encoded packets with Perl is available • The Z39.50 library contains, as an example, a gateway from XER to BER and back • BER to XML conversion library (Warnock/ Gamiel) • demonstration utility, software description

  21. Opportunities…. • XML developers • leverage investments in ASN.1-based applications already interoperable • ASN.1 developers • leverage investments in XML-based applications coming up on the Internet

  22. Further information... • XER home page http://asf.gils.net/xer with pointers to: • documentation on XER concept • details on rules defined • software • example PDUs • decisions and proposals • XER discussion list and the list archive • Profile for Z39.50 over HTTP: • http://lcweb.loc.gov/z3950/agency/zhttp.html

  23. Credits... This presentation incorporates content from a presentation to theASN.1 Committee Geneva, June 9, 1999 byEliot Christian, U.S. Geological Survey and Nick Hibma, E.C. Joint Research Commission