An XML Framework for Agent-Based E-Commerce

Robert J. Glushko, Jay M. Tenenbaum, Bart Meltzer

Robert J. Glushko, Jay M. Tenenbaum, Bart Meltzer, An XML Framework for Agent-Based E-Commerce, Communications of the ACM, 42(3):106-114, March 1999.

CommerceNet's eCo System initiative, launched in 1996, aims to transform the World-Wide Web into an agent-based infrastructure for Internet commerce. Today's Web gives people unprecedented access to online information and services. But its information is delivered in format-oriented, handcrafted Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), making it understandable only through human eyes. Software agents and search engines have difficulty using the information because it is not semantically encoded. Clever programmers work around some of HTML's inherent limitations by using proprietary tags or software that "scrapes" Web pages to extract content. Unfortunately, such ad hoc approaches do not scale. Proprietary tags require browser plug-ins, and scraping approaches require a customized script for each Web site. These approaches balkanize the Web, making it inaccessible to agents.


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