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SyncML
Post: #1

Definition
The popularity of mobile computing and communications devices can be traced to their ability to deliver information to users when needed. Users want ubiquitous access to information and applications from the device at hand, plus they want to access and update this information on the fly. The ability to use applications and information on one mobile device, then to synchronize any updates with the applications and information back at the office, or on the network, is key to the utility and popularity of this pervasive, disconnected way of computing. Unfortunately, we cannot achieve these dual visions: Networked data that support synchronization with any mobile device Mobile devices that support synchronization with any networked data Rather, there is a proliferation of different, proprietary data synchronization protocols for mobile devices. Each of these protocols is only available for selected transports, implemented on a selected subset of devices, and able to access a small set of net-worked data.

The absence of a single synchronization standard poses many problems for end users, device manufacturers, application developers, and service providers. SyncML is a new industry initiative to develop and promote a single, common data synchronization protocol that can be used industry-wide. Driving the initiative are Ericsson, IBM, Lotus, Motorola, Nokia, Palm Inc., Psion, Starfish Software. Additional companies are being recruited to join and participate. Founded in February 2000, the SyncML initiative recognized the worldwide need for one common data synchronization protocol. With the industry-wide proliferation of mobile devices and the evolution toward mobile devices as the major means of information exchange, remote synchronization of data will be of integral importance. The SyncML initiative, officially supported by well over 200 device manufacturers, service providers and application developers, is currently developing and promoting an open global specification for mobile data synchronization.

The popularity of mobile computing and communication devices can be traced to their ability to deliver information to users when needed. Users want ubiquitous access to information and applications from the device at hand, plus they want to access and update this information on the fly.A long-standing obstacle to the advancement of ubiquitous computing has been the lack of a generalized synchronization protocol. Until recently, the available synchronization protocols were proprietary, vendor-specific, and supported synchronization only on selected transports, implemented on a selected subset of devices, and able to access a small set of net-worked data. This has slowed development in the area of mobile computing and been a common source of frustration for users, device manufacturers, service providers, and application developers.

SyncML is a new industry initiative to develop and promote a single, common data synchronization protocol that can be used industry-wide. Driving the initiative are Ericsson, IBM, Lotus, Motorola, Nokia, among others. SyncML is intended as a common language that enables smooth, efficient synchronization of personal and business information over fixed or mobile networks. Its aim is to facilitate the synchronization of networked information with various devices running SyncML-compatible applications.

As the first universal synchronization protocol, SyncML offers true freedom to users of mobile devices by allowing them to send and receive up-to-date information between their mobile applications and their office or home-based systems regardless of the platform, manufacturer, or application. SyncML leverages Extensible Markup Language (XML), making SyncML a truly future-proof platform.

Need for a Common Data Synchronization Protocol
All the popular mobile devices - handheld computers, mobile phones, pagers, laptops - synchronize their data with network applications, desktop calendars, and other locations where information is stored. This ability to access and update information on the fly is key to the pervasive nature of mobile computing. Yet, until recently, almost every device uses a different technology for performing data synchronization. Trends in the computing industry are moving us toward a future in which users expect almost any kind of tangible device to be networked. While we haven't reached that state yet, we already have access to a lot of computing devices that can be carried around and that possess sufficient computing power to log on to networks: personal digital assistants, mobile phones, laptops, etc. And the devices are only getting smaller:

Current industry trials are testing the feasibility of wearable computers. Users who own these devices expect to be able to access networked data from almost any place and in almost any situation. And since these users would find a physical, wired connection to a network impossibly cumbersome, in all probability they will access network data wirelessly. This is what is popularly known as pervasive computing (PvC). Pervasive computing networks are huge distributed systems whose characteristics differ slightly from traditional distributed systems.
Post: #2

SyncML (Synchronization Markup Language) is the previous name for a platform-independent information synchronization standard. The project is now known as Open Mobile Alliance Data Synchronization and Device Management. The purpose of SyncML is to offer an open standard as a replacement for existing data synchronization solutions, which have mostly been from specific vendors, applications or operating systems.

SyncML works by exchanging commands, which can be requests and responses. As an example:
• the mobile sends an Alert command to signal the desire to start a refresh-only synchronization
• the computer responds with a Status command to accept the request
• the mobile sends one or more Sync commands containing an Add subcommand for each item (for example, calendar entry); if the number of entries is large, it does not include the <Final /> tag;
• in the latter case, the computer requests that it continue with an appropriate Alert message, and the mobile sends another piece of articles; otherwise, the computer confirms that it received all the data with a Status command
Commands (Alert, Sync, Status, ecc.) Are grouped into messages. Each message and each of its commands has an identifier, so the MsgID, CmdID pair uniquely determines a command. Answers like status commands include the pair that identifies the command they are responding to.
 


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