April 22, 1998
Updated from The Bulletin: Seybold News and Views on Electronic Publishing, Vol. 3, No 29
Firefly is acquired, an advisory group is formed and Inso fires a shotVictor Votsch
April 22, 1998
Things have been busy in April for the Information and Content Exchange (ICE) consortium led by Vignette. First, co-founder Firefly Network was acquired by Microsoft. No problem--Microsoft is eager to take on a larger role as the privacy advocate in the consortium. The next week Vignette announced the formation of an advisory council of 40 firms, including CNNfn, 3Com, Cascade Systems, Hoover's Inc., iCat, Pointcast and Random House, to name a few. The council is reviewing the requirements and specifications for the ICE protocol and will suggest changes to the ICE Authoring Group. Once complete, the spec will be posted in the ICE section on Vignette's Web site.
Inso goes it alone. Inso, while not a member of the Authoring Group or the Advisory Council, announced what it claims to be the first ICE application. The Dynabase Command Line Interface (CLI) provides an API for content exchange between any machine on the Web and servers running the application. Inso claims the system is in use at five separate sites. Inso maintains that because the basic concepts of ICE-Web access, staging rules and usage tracking-are already known to DynaBase, it can construct a tag set that provides that functionality. Since ICE will be defined in terms of XML, and DynaBase is a tag-aware server that accommodates mutiple DTDs, DynaBase should be able handle any tags ICE comes up with. Inso plans to offer a migration path to the formal ICE protocol when it is approved.
Our Take. ICE is on the way to becoming a hot standard for those concerned with
content management for extranets. An increased role for Microsoft probably won't cause
change, but the addition of an advisory council does increase the credibility of the
group. If anything, Inso's announcement reiterates the adage "imitation is the
sincerest form of flattery" and demonstrates the power of XML. Vignette and Inso are
old adversaries, and this is just the latest round in the ongoing battle for bragging
rights. In the end both vendors will support whatever the W3C blesses as the official
protocol. In the meantime, the creation of an advisory council is an invitation for
publishers to share their interests and concerns regarding a standard that will affect
especially large publishers that plan many outlets for their content.