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What is XDI?

XDI (XRI Data Interchange) is an emerging structured data sharing protocol from OASIS based on the XRI digital identity addressing standard (see the one-pager on XRI). It has been under development since 2004 by many of the same individuals and companies working on XRI.

How is XDI different from conventional XML?

XDI is a new approach to data sharing that does for machine-readable data what HTML does for human-readable content: puts it into a standard format any XDI-enabled system or application can read. This is a radically different approach than conventional XML, where each XML document uses its own schema (way of identifying and describing the data it carries). By contrast the XDI schema has just 5 XML elements. The key is that every item of data, from the smallest atomic field to the largest multi-terabyte database, is identified, described, and linked using XRIs.

How is XDI different from RDF?

RDF (Resource Description Framework) is the basis for the W3C’s Semantic Web initiative. RDF is a standard model for expressing metadata (data about other data) that enables machines to more intelligently and efficiently find and process information on the Web. Although XDI is not native RDF, all XDI documents can be instantly transformed into RDF documents because XDI uses the RDF graph model—a simple way of describing all data in a machine-understandable graph. XDI produces RDF graphs that are 100% XRI-addressable and can all be linked and synchronized in the same way.

What are XDI link contracts?

Because of the 100% addressable shared graph model, XDI documents can be used to control the sharing of other XDI documents. These are called link contracts because serve the same purpose as real-world contracts (e.g., a non-disclosure agreements) that define who has access to what data for what purpose. Link contracts are an Internet-scale solution authorization, access control, and data rights management.

What problems will XDI solve for users?

Data portability and protection. A primary application of XDI is to make personal profile information – anything from contact data and travel preferences to financial data and medical records — portable across websites and applications everywhere. Think "PDF for data". The combination of XDI data portability and XDI link contracts should give users dramatically greater control over sharing and usage of their personal data.

What problems will XDI solve for businesses?

Automated data sharing and user-centric data management. XML has already been a boon for data interoperability and service-oriented architectures. XDI is the next evolutionary step. By adopting a common data sharing format and Internet-scale data addressing model, XDI can automate many common data sharing and integration operations that currently require much more expensive solutions. XDI also enables bridging the worlds of personal, social, and enterprise data sharing while ensuring that the proper data is always shared and managed in the proper context.

What software supports XDI today?

Since the XDI standards rely on the XRI standards, and XRI 2.0 just completed, the first formal XDI specifications will be coming out in early 2008. But there is already a deployed full-scale implementation of the XDI data model that is XRI 2.0-conformant... myXDI.

Where can I go for more info?

Just start at the Wikipedia page on XDI– the XDI community uses this to maintain current links to all relevant resources.