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Current Topics In Mobile Computing

SyncML Standard for Data Synchronization

Problem and Background:
Data synchronization of local data on mobile devices (hand-held devices, smart phones, PDAs, pen-based tablets, or notebooks) with the servers at the head office is a constant problem that mobile users face. A number of software vendors, such as Puma, PhoneSync, Sybase, Oracle, Data Mirror Corporation and others have developed data synchronization solutions that are based on proprietary implementations of these vendors. Application developers have had to use specific APIs and their variations to interface with their database applications. Recently, XML has become a major standard for exchange of data in the Internet-based applications. In this context, several vendors (IBM, Motorola, Nokia, Palm Inc, Psion and Starfish Software) have mounted an effort for standardization of data synchronization across various mobile devices, desktop and servers based on specialized implementation of XML.

The absent of a single synchronization standard poses many problems for end users, device manufacturers, application developers and service providers. SyncML will address this problem.

The SyncML Initiative will develop SyncML protocol that would have the following characteristics:

  • Operate effectively over wireless and wire line networks

  • Support various transport protocols and media

  • HTTP (Internet)

  • WSP (Wireless Session Protocol, part of WAP)

  • DBEX (Bluetooth, IrDA and other local connectivity)

  • SMTP, POPs and IMAP

  • Pure TCP/IP network

  • Propriety wireless communication protocols

  • Optional enhancement security and compression capabilities

  • Support Arbitrary Data and such data formats as

  • VCard, vCalandar

  • Collaborative objects such as e-mail and network news

  • Relational data

  • XML and HTML

  • Binary data, binary large objects, or blobs

  • Enable Data Access from a variety of Applications

  • Programming Language independent of applications

  • Reference code will common language

  • Address the Resource Limitations of Mobile Data

  • Protocol must fit within memory footprint of device

  • Data exchanged using protocol that could be encoded in binary format (WBXML) to reduce memory required and reduce processor resources

  • Building up in Existing Internet Technologies

  • To use XML to represent data being exchanged during a synchronization session

  • Promote Interoperability


Current Vendor Participation

IBM, Motorola, Nokia, Palm Inc, Psion and Starfish Software. The initial group is encouraging participation from industry device manufacturers, synchronization vendors, SPs (service Providers) and ASPs (Application Service Providers)


Current Implementation Status : The SyncML consortium demonstrated the first implementation of the standard in June 2000. That seems very creditable to the consortium. Go here for more


For more information, go to http://www.syncml.org


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