HomeXML Page 5 - XML Matters: Practical XML Data Design and Manipulation for Voting Systems
Conclusion - XML
EVM2003 brings XML to the democratic process. In this installment, David discusses his practical experiences developing interrelated XML data formats for the EVM2003 Free Software project to develop voting machines that produce voter-verifiable paper ballots. Some design principles of format subsetting emerge. In addition, David looks at how an application-specific meaning for XML document equivalence can be programmed, and why canonicalization is insufficient. (This intermediate-level article was first published by IBM developerWorks, June 28, 2004, at http://www.ibm.com/developerWorks.)
Quite aside from the political import of EVM2003, I feel a certain satisfaction in working with a Free Software project where XML is so clearly just the right data storage format to use. In many contexts, XML is something that you force on yourself because it seems like the way to go -- but in a few cases, the fit is absolutely perfect. In projects that intersect with standards, I think XML has a particularly strong case in its favor since so many interoperable parsers and binding libraries are available (many of which I have written about in this column). And in projects like EVM2003 where the self-documentation of data formats is important (and while data volume is moderate), XML fits like a glove.
Participate in the discussion forum on this article. (You can also click Discuss at the top or bottom of the article to access the forum.)
Read about the EVM2003 project, which hopes to develop a Free Software infrastructure for elections, and is hosted by SourceForge.
Find out more about the Open Voting Consortium at their Web site.
David MertzDavid Mertz feels that procedural democracy requires that the technical instruments of governance be open for public inspection, every bit as much as it requires the legal acts of government remain so open. David may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; his life pored over at http://gnosis.cx/dW/. Suggestions and recommendations on this, past, or future columns are welcomed. Check out David's book Text Processing in Python.
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