Will Information and Content Exchange (ICE) change the face of Web publishing? Speakers at the Seybold San Francisco Publishing 98 conference seem to think so.
In a session provocatively called ?ICE: The Next Really Important Thing?, members of the ICE Adhoc Working Group talked up the technology that aims to standardise business to business information exchange.
ICE is a proposed standard for the exchange of information between Web sites. If a Web designer wants to include content from a certain provider ? such as news headlines, weather reports or stock quotes - in their Web site, ICE will provide a standard way for setting up and managing such a relationship.
The ICE Adhoc Working Group was formed in February. Members include Microsoft, Sun and Vignette. Last week a draft of the ICE specification was handed to the ICE Advisory Council, which counts about 50 members.
The Advisory Council will provide feedback that should lead to a definitive specification later this year. This specification will be submitted formally to a standards body ? probably Web governing body the W3C ? by the end of this year.
Today many different formats are used for setting up a ?subscription? to Internet content, often being done manually. This makes it more difficult for companies to license content from syndicators, and integrate it into their Web sites.
ICE could make it much easier to spice up an Intranet or Internet site with information licensed from one of the many content ?aggregators?. The specification controls things such as the frequency of updates, limitations on the use of information and the correct display of copyright information. It supports both ?pull? and ?push? for Web site updates.
Phil Gibson, director of interactive marketing at National Semiconductor, said the company intends to use ICE to feed National Semiconductor product information to the Web sites of its partners. This, said Gibson, will save customers time and increase the number of channels that can resell National Semiconductor products.
?ICE will allow everyone to get into the syndication business,? said Andrew Worth, vice president of software infrastructure at CNET, another ICE contributor.
ICE is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), a W3C standard. ICE transfers information between Web sites in the form of an XML document. It also provides the protocol to control the information exchange.
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