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Subject: Application SC report - August 2005

It appears that the more research I do into the possibility
of digitally signing and encrypting transactions from the
browser directly, the more complex the picture becomes - some
technically, but more so from the number of groups addressing
issues around this problem, but not this problem itself.

I recently became aware of an ad-hoc working group called the
Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG)
(http://www.whatwg.org/) that is attempting to define standards
around Web Forms 2.0 - a supposedly, better way to write web
applications.  It is being promoted by the Mozilla Foundation
and Opera, and they've submitted (or are in the process of
submitting) their initial draft to the W3C.

I am attempting to determine the details of their specification
and to see if they're addressed forms signing/encryption within
their draft, thus adding one more detour before the real work
can be done.

It does seem that PKI is gaining momentum - although in small

   i) OpenOffice has implemented XMLSignature-based digital
      signatures in their free 1.9x implementation of office
      suites.  It actually works;

  ii) Sun has released a JSR-105 (XMLSignature)-compliant
      reference implementation of the open-source Java library
      so that applications can use a standard API to use digital
      signatures (haven't tested it yet);

iii) The Java library compliant to XMLEncryption standards
      (JSR-106) public-review is imminent, according to the
      JSR-106 chairman; they're anticipating standardization
      sometime this year, perhaps;

While enabling technologies are slowly coming to market, the
ability for corporate IT developers to use this technology easily
(as well as the technical documentation to make sense of it all)
remains out of reach.  We need to address this.

Arshad Noor
Chairperson, Applications Guidelines SC

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