Document-centric XML workflows with fragment digital signatures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of digital document management and processing is increasing. Traditional workflows of paper forms are being replaced by electronic workflows of digital documents. These workflows often require multiple signatures to be added to the documents for authorization and/or integrity. We describe examples of digital workflows that illustrate problems with digital signatures: i.e. the use of digital signatures across entire documents results in signatures that can be unnecessarily invalidated by subsequent modification of the document. We propose the use of fragment signatures, which reduce unnecessary invalidation of signatures and enable greater concurrency in workflows. Our approach is document-centric and does not use a centralized database. We report on an implementation that allows fragment signatures over document fragments as well as the attachment (or embedding) of other documents. This allows collaborative or cooperative editing to occur on parts of a document without disturbing unrelated signatures. We describe the lessons learned from our deployments and offer further ways to embed such signatures into other document types. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-672
Number of pages18
JournalSoftware: Practice and Experience
Issue number8
Early online date7 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • XML, workflow, digital signature, authorization

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