Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: XML

XML: Article

Standards in the Real Estate Industry

Standards in the Real Estate Industry

The fever for new XML specifications for almost anything imaginable has hit the real estate industry. Companies that are actively pursuing some niche in this industry have realized the need to create and adopt standards for communication. As in other industries, however, competing XML standards are emerging, keeping any one standard from reaching a critical mass of adoption and fruition.

This article explores the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) for the real estate industry. I'll talk about how some of these standards can leverage Web services technologies such as SOAP and WSDL. I'll begin by taking a look at the landscape and various XML standards in the real estate industry.

Industry Landscape
Adoption of XML standards will provide a common vocabulary and increase the interoperability of the Multiple Listing System (MLS) data and the different users that access this data on a daily basis, such as realtors, title companies, home insurance companies, and end users looking to buy or sell a house. This will also foster an increase in competition among software vendors seeking to serve the real estate industry. The emerging XML standards are intended to be used over the Internet and can leverage various Web services standards such as SOAP and WSDL for increased interoperability. A critical aspect of these standards is safeguards to protect intellectual property (IP) and the privacy of all involved in a real estate process.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is the largest professional association for people involved in all aspects of the real estate industry, with more than 730,000 current members. In 1999, together with several technology leaders, the NAR began an effort to make access to MLS information easier. The Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) is an open standard for accessing and exchanging real estate information between all the players involved in the real estate process.

There are several other standards in this space. The RELML specification was first announced in the summer of 1998. This version of the draft is currently implemented in OpenMLS's Real Estate Listing Management system.

The Data Consortium is an open- membership group of more than 50 companies and associations whose goal is an open source standard namespace for the commercial real estate industry. They have posted a namespace with 13 key elements to support XML streams and Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) operations to a relational database. This includes an explanatory guide and dictionary.

The Alliance for Advanced Real Estate Transaction Technology (AARTT) announced an initiative to create open standards for data exchange within the real estate industry in order to streamline the residential real estate industry; this initiative is called CRTML (Comprehensive Real Estate Transaction Markup Language).

The increasing number of standards leads to the lack of adoption of a single standard. XML is a great technology that provides the opportunity to develop several standards. However, if the industry does not adopt one standard, XML can't be used to its full potential.

Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS)
RETS is the standard gaining the most momentum and it appears to be the most comprehensive standard that can influence the real estate industry. RETS is a collection of several documents and tools.

  • Real Estate Transaction Standard Protocol Specification, version 1.5 (draft 2): This document describes the RETS protocol and transaction set. RETS defines a series of computer interactions called "transactions" and serves as the definitive reference for developers who implement them. It establishes the parameters for each specified transaction, both upload and download, as well as the expected behaviors and results that compliant hosts and clients must be able to manage, including error codes. The specification also includes developer notes to explain technical details and a change process document to define how the standard will be administered.
  • Real Estate Transaction Standard XML DTD (RETML): Version 1.5 of the XML DTD for working with the Real Estate Transaction Specification.
  • Real Estate Transaction Standard Metadata DTD: The XML DTD for exchanging metadata between systems or between clients and servers.
  • RETS Reference Implementation: A complete implementation of a client and server written in Java.
  • RETS IDX Client: An implementation written in Visual Basic.
  • RETS Compliance Tool: A scriptable compliance testing tool in Java. The tool accepts scripts written in XML that test the interaction of a client or server against predefined responses.

    RETS Dissected
    Let's take a closer look at RETS. RETS defines two major components - a RETS server and a RETS client. A user accesses a RETS client to access MLS data. This client could be a Web site that is accessed through HTTP, a thick VB client, or another client or server system that uses Web services as the RETS client. The RETS client initiates the appropriate request to the RETS server, usually over the Internet. The RETS server responds with data formatted to the RETS specification. There are open source implementations of RETS clients and servers available. Figure 1 shows the architecture of a typical RETS request-response cycle.

    I recommend downloading and installing the reference implementation of RETS from the RETS Web site (see references). The Java version is relatively easy to use and very well documented. It runs on top of Apache Tomcat and uses MySQL as the database. However, you could adapt this to your environment and run it on top of an application server such as JBoss, BEA WebLogic, or WebSphere. Once you get this implementation up and running and go through the steps in the install guide that comes with the download, you will see the Property search screen (see Figure 2).

    After clicking on the search button, you will see a search results page as shown in Figure 3.

    Underneath these simple JSP screens the reference implementation is using the RETS standard to exchange data. Listing 1 (available at www.sys-con.com/xml/sourcec.cfm) shows an example of an XML listing that is returned through the search function.

    RETS and Web Services
    RETS can be used in the context of Web services. Wrapping a RETS request or response in a SOAP message is trivial. Exposing the services in WSDL that some niche company in the real estate space provides is also a straightforward task. What's more interesting is what the concept of Web services brings to the real estate industry in addition to the standardization of the data exchange format.

    Web services provide the communication endpoints to a service. They enable a transaction to be run asynchronously and a service to automatically discover and interact with new services without prior negotiation. Okay, there you have the buzzwords and phrases for Web services.

    The adoption of Web services allows realtors to automatically find and understand how to interact with several of the MLSs in their area. They can use Web services to upload their listings in a simple and consistent way to all the MLSs that have exposed their interfaces using WSDL, and support the SOAP and RETS standards.

    Complete Web services implementation has been targeted for RETS 2.0.

    Summary
    I've discussed the current state of XML technologies and standards for the real estate industry, including a deeper look into the real estate transaction standard, and talked about the reference implementation provided with the RETS. I've discussed at a conceptual level the application of Web services with the RETS specification. There is tremendous potential and need for standardization of communications and data exchange formats to enable greater interoperability of different real estate systems.

    References

  • Mittal, K. "Web Services and the Real Estate Industry," Web Services Architect: www.webservicesarchitect.com/ content/articles/mittal01.asp
  • Real Estate Transaction Protocol: www.rets.org/
  • More Stories By Kunal Mittal

    Kunal Mittal is a consultant for implementation and strategy for Web services and services-oriented architectures. He has co-authored and contributed to several books on Java, WebLogic and Web services.

    Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
    The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provides a high level technical overview of many cloud services available to mobile app developers, includi...
    BroadSoft on Tuesday announced that it is a recipient of the 2014 Frost & Sullivan Market Leadership Award in the Hosted/Cloud Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony market for Latin America. According to Frost & Sullivan market research, the Latin America (LATAM) hosted/cloud Internet Protocol (IP) telephony market, including integrated unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) applications, is currently experiencing a rapid growth trajectory and is expected to exhibit a tenfold rise in annual revenues in the 2013-2020 period. With more than 600 cloud deployments internationally, BroadSoft w...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that StorPool Storage will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. StorPool is distributed storage software that allows service providers, enterprises and other cloud builders to run data storage on standard x86 servers, instead of using expensive and inefficient storage arrays (SAN).
    Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
    GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
    VoxImplant has announced full WebRTC support in the newest versions of its Android SDK and iOS SDK. The updated SDKs, which enable audio and video calls on mobile devices, are now compatible with the WebRTC standard to allow any mobile app to communicate with WebRTC-enabled browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and, when available, Microsoft Spartan. The WebRTC-updated SDKs represent VoxImplant's continued leadership in simplifying the development of real-time communications (RTC) services for app developers. VoxImplant (built by Zingaya, the real-time communication servi...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Site24x7, the cloud infrastructure monitoring service, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Site24x7 is a cloud infrastructure monitoring service that helps monitor the uptime and performance of websites, online applications, servers, mobile websites and custom APIs. The monitoring is done from 50+ locations across the world and from various wireless carriers, thus providing a global perspective of the end-user experience. Site24x7 supports monitoring H...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Intelligent Systems Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1994, Intelligent Systems Services Inc. is located near Washington, DC, with representatives and partners nationwide. ISS’s well-established track record is based on the continuous pursuit of excellence in designing, implementing and supporting nationwide clients’ mission-critical systems. ISS has completed many successful projects in Healthcare, Commercial, Manufacturing, ...
    Sonus Networks introduced the Sonus WebRTC Services Solution, a virtualized Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) offer, purpose-built for the Cloud. The WebRTC Services Solution provides signaling from WebRTC-to-WebRTC applications and interworking from WebRTC-to-Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), delivering advanced real-time communications capabilities on mobile applications and on websites, which are accessible via a browser.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud, a provider of enterprise resource planning software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. B2cloud develops the software you need. They have the ideal tools to help you work with your clients. B2Cloud’s main solutions include AGIS – ERP, CLOHC, AGIS – Invoice, and IZUM
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Tufin, the market-leading provider of Security Policy Orchestration Solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As the market leader of Security Policy Orchestration, Tufin automates and accelerates network configuration changes while maintaining security and compliance. Tufin's award-winning Orchestration Suite™ gives IT organizations the power and agility to enforce security policy across complex, multi-vendor enterprise networks. With more than 1...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudian, Inc., is a Foster City, California - based software company specializing in cloud storage software. The main product is Cloudian, an Amazon S3-compliant cloud object storage platform, the bedrock of cloud computing systems, that enables cloud service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable cloud storage solu...
    “With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
    Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
    So I guess we’ve officially entered a new era of lean and mean. I say this with the announcement of Ubuntu Snappy Core, “designed for lightweight cloud container hosts running Docker and for smart devices,” according to Canonical. “Snappy Ubuntu Core is the smallest Ubuntu available, designed for security and efficiency in devices or on the cloud.” This first version of Snappy Ubuntu Core features secure app containment and Docker 1.6 (1.5 in main release), is available on public clouds, and for ARM and x86 devices on several IoT boards. It’s a Trend! This announcement comes just as...
    SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
    Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable older adults to live independent lives while staying connected to loved ones. M2M will continue to gr...