Information and Content Exchange (ICE) is an XML-based standard protocol for electronic business-to-business (B2B) asset management. ICE defines an architecture and a common language that can be used as a means of automating Web content syndication (information sharing and reuse between Web sites) for publishing and e-commerce uses. Members of the ICE Authoring Group (which includes representatives from Adobe Systems, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Vignette, and National Semiconductor) are committed to the further development of ICE as an open standard. ICE version 1.1 was released in June 2000.
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ICE enables the automation of data supplying, exchanging, updating, and controlling without requiring the supplier to manually package content, or to maintain knowledge about the structure of recipient Web sites. ICE specifies creation of a trust relationship based on the Open Profiling System (OPS). Use of the ICE protocol enables data sharing between servers, so that, for example, syndicated portions of a Web page can be automatically updated when the source is updated, or new content can be automatically entered and integrated with existing content on a Web page. Each protocol message between servers consists of a valid (conforming to namespace criteria) XML document. XML tags are used to format data to be processed by the servers involved in the transaction.
Because ICE makes it possible for almost every aspect of B2B asset exchange to be automated, it decreases the need to maintain technical staff -often a scarce resource - for those purposes. Use of the protocol allows information service providers to specify content, customize it for specific recipients, schedule its delivery, and maintain it. Nevertheless, the success of content syndication is still reliant on the development of a standard metadata vocabulary, considered to be another essential element. The Publishing Requirements for Industry Standard Metadata (PRISM) working group (an organization made up of content providers and vendors) is collaborating to develop such a standard.