Call for Participation
1. We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the memorandum dated
January 19, 2001, from Mr. Lee Holcomb, CIO for NASA that asks for VA participation
and enhancement suggestions concerning the government Web site XML.GOV. VA
is pleased to share with you some suggestions for improving the Web site.
These suggestions are:
- VA's webmasters need digital signatures to assure the integrity of
our Web pages. It is widely understood in the commercial sector that HTML
is not adequate for the task, so the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have turned to XML for a solution.
The XML-Signature working group has developed an XML compliant syntax for
representing the signature of Web resources and portions of protocol
messages and procedures for computing and verifying such signatures. The
new digital signature standard developed by the IETF and W3C employs XML.
These documents are available at
- VA's webmasters need to share the task of Web site development
across heterogeneous operating systems and networks. Web sites typically
gather together information from diverse sources, often from people who are
geographically separated. Web Document Authoring and Versioning (WEBDAV)
is an Internet protocol IETF Request for Comment (RFC) 2518 that enables
compliant servers to share version, and control access for XML pages,
images, and other information that comprise a Web site. These objects can
be directly authored by the primary sources of the information. Even for
sites that use a staging process, WEBDAV provides significant benefit for
the first stage, where information is first entered into the approval
process. WEBDAV capable authoring tools can transfer pages from server to
server along an approval workflow.
- Beyond simple Web page authoring, WEBDAV can serve as a network file
system suitable for the Internet, one that works on entire files, with good
performance in high-latency environments. WEBDAV can be used as a protocol
for manipulating the contents of a document management system via the Web.
An important goal of WEBDAV is to support virtual enterprises, being the
primary protocol supporting a wide range of collaborative applications.
Importantly, a major goal is the support of remote software development
teams. A final goal of WEBDAV is to leverage the success of HTTP in being
a standard access layer for a wide range of storage repositories. The
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) gives authors read access, while WEBDAV
provides them write access. Of course this assumes the use of objects that
can be manipulated as is possible with XML, but not possible with HTML. See
- The Internet Open Trading Protocol (IOTP) provides a data exchange
format for electronic commerce while integrating existing pure payment
protocols seamlessly. IOTP provides layered system architecture of some
generic IOTP application core plus multiple specific payment modules. The
Payment API uses XML to defines wrapper elements for both the input
parameters and the API function's response. In particular, the response
wrapper provides common locations for Error Codes and Error Descriptions.
For details, please see
- The Intrusion Detection Message Exchange Format (IDMEF) defines data
formats and exchange procedures for sharing information of interest to
intrusion detection and response systems, and to the management systems
which may need to interact with them. The IETF Internet Drafts at
a proposed implementation of the data format component of the IDMEF, using
XML to represent the class hierarchy.
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a set of protocols for
conducting highly structured inter-organization exchanges, such as for
making purchases or initiating loan requests. Security such as EDI
transaction integrity, privacy and non-repudiation in various forms is
needed to support exchanges by point-to-point, FTP and SMTP protocols.
There is industry consensus that these heading fields are best described in
- The W3C has begun an XML Encryption Activity to specify the
necessary data model, syntax, and processing to encrypt XML content.
Applications for XML encryption include exchange of payments and purchase
orders and other sensitive information.
2. In addition to these suggestions, please replace Mr. Roy Baker with Mr.
Walter Houser as VA's XML subcommittee liaison.
3. If you have any questions, you may contact me at 202-273-8842 or have a
member of your staff contact Walter Houser at 202-273-8012 or
Kathy Ebel for
Robert P. Bubniak
Department of Veterans Affairs
Acting Assistant Secretary for
Information and Technology