Leveraging the Web Platform for Ambient Computing: An Experience

Leveraging the Web Platform for Ambient Computing: An Experience

Fabio Mancinelli (XWiki SAS, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0038-6.ch018
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Abstract

This paper explores the idea of what can be achieved by using the principles and the technologies of the web platform when they are applied to ambient computing. In this paper, the author presents an experience that realizes some of the goals of an Ambient Computing system by making use of the technologies and the common practices of today’s Web Platform. This paper provides an architecture that lowers the deployment costs by maximizing the reuse of pre-existing components and protocols, while guaranteeing accessibility, interoperability, and extendibility.
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The Web Platform

In this section we will briefly introduce the Web Platform and what it consists of. With the term “Web Platform” we refer to the ensemble of the protocols and standards the World Wide Web is built upon. The term “Web Platform” has been circulating for a while in the Web community, and has gained more and more importance after that Google organized its first “Google I/O” conference (Google Inc., 2008a) whose aim was that of “Advancing the Web as a Platform”. The term platform is crucial because nowadays developers are using the Web, its architecture and the technologies it is based on, as an actual platform for engineering, developing and deploying their applications. This is basically something similar to what happened with the Java Platform (Sun Microsystems, 2008), with the introduction of the Java language, its standard libraries and all their extensions like the “Enterprise Edition” or the “Micro Edition”. The idea of the Web as a platform is also corroborated by all the companies that are producing advanced tools and solutions for easily building complex application without taking care of all the low-level details (Ruby, Thomas, & Hansson, 2008) (Google Inc., 2008b)

The Web Platform has an architecture that is based on a well defined set of principles and constraints (Fielding, 2002) that are implemented by a set of standard and widely deployed communication protocols (Fielding, Gettys, Mogul, Frystyk, Masinter, Leach, & Berners-Lee, 1999), and makes use of commonly used data formats for exchanging information (IANA).

A key element in this architecture is the concept of resource and its associated representations (i.e., how a resource, which can be also a physical resource, is represented for being used and manipulated in a digital context). The term “resource” is highly generic but, as stated in Richardson and Ruby (2007), we can say that a resource is “anything that is important enough to be referenced as a thing in itself”. Representations are not the resources themselves, but are the means for retrieving and manipulating actual resources. For example, an image or an XML file might represent a physical person. By manipulating those representations we can change the way the physical person is “used” in the digital system, though without “modifying” the actual person.

The most important principles and constraints described in Fielding (2002) that are relevant for the purpose of this paper are:

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