DSML (Directory Services Markup Language) is an application of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) that enables different computer network directory formats to be expressed in a common format and shared by different directory systems.
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In the latest DSML specification, the related XML schema defines types of information found in today's network and enterprise directories. It then defines a common XML document format that should be used to display the contents of each directory.
DSML has been heralded in industry press as a key component to the future of e-commerce and Web-based applications that link businesses and business processes together. Some examples of such business-to-business and business-to-customer applications include those in the area of supply chain management (SCM) or customer service, where someone in one company might use a Web interface to order items or to find out inventory levels on a vendor's products. Information in a variety of directories may need to be furnished in order to display the correct information to an end user.
Bowstreet Software was the primary company behind the initial draft of the DSML specification. With the support of such early members as IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and the Sun-Netscape Alliance, they founded the DSML Working Group, an organization committed to gaining acceptance for DSML among a variety of standards bodies, including: XML.org, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and OASIS.
DSML is part of a handful of other efforts currently underway to adopt standards that make it easier for the contents of different directories to be shared across platforms and over the Internet. Other such efforts include the Directory Interoperability Forum (DIF) and the Directory Enabled Networking (DEN) initiative. Proponents of DSML indicate that DSML also works synergistically with LDAP directories, allowing LDAP directory information to be transmitted beyond the traditional firewall and into Internet-based applications.