Monday, April 24, 2006

XML Community of Practice, notes from the April 20 meeting

Owen Ambur opened with a few words about the history of the XML Community of Practice. It had been originally tasked by the federal CIO council and the Office of Management and Budget with developing a process to rationalize the XML part of the Federal IT architecture or, as one put it, “We can’t deal with vendors coming at us with intergalactic solutions.” He then introduced Amin Hassam of i411 to talk about the browser i411 has developed for, which permits you to browse by TRM and SRM facets.

Here, Owen interjected that if you have technology that does not fit neatly into existing categories, you can propose new categories. Owen mentioned obvious candidates for new categories: PDF, PDF/A, and IPv6.

At present, has only 43 items - but as it gains adoption the need for efficient search will increase.

Note to vendors - I strongly suggest you look at and consider if you have a component to propose. It is a highly cost effective way to bring your product before the federal market.

Owen then introduced Jonny Chambers to talk about Microsoft Solution Sharing Network. It was apparently designed to build reusable InfoPath forms for government. Microsoft designed it to generate content, build community, provide a portal where desired, bring together “packets of expertise” (workers located in different cities), and facilitate research into what enables information sharing and what creates barriers.

InfoPath is a good choice because it is XML based, has off-line capability, understands web services natively and moreover its forms can be tailored depending upon responses.

The floor was opened for questions, and someone asked, whether, if forms built by Solutions Sharing Network were created for the general public, the individual user would need InfoPath to use the form? Chambers replied that, “as of today, yes”, and that no public forms were currently being created.

Next, Betsey Fanning of AIIM presented on the Interoperable ECM standard. The iECM standard is being established to make it possible to access multiple repositories of information (in Java, .Net, and SQL, for example).

The goal is to create a standard that will make it possible to access information, even if you don’t know which silo (that’s tech speak for database) it is stored in. Rather than duplicate information (always problematical when dealing with multiple databases), the committee wishes to create links between repositories (another tech speak word for database).

The standard will make it possible for different software applications to talk to different data stores (still another word for database).

The iECM consortium is made up of large corporate users, government, manufacturers and VARs.

Note to software developers - participation in a standards committee is a great way to raise your company’s profile, establish your reputation as a leader, and shape the standard to be compatible with your product, or at least not exclude it.

John Fitzgerald of Software AG presented on their Tamino XML based database management system. Data goes in and out in XML; it also supports unstructured data.

Tamino is designed for mission critical situations (e.g., Amsterdam Airport), with a high degree of reliability and availability. It supports WebDAV.

Brand Neiman asked if Tamino supports RDF. The response was no, not yet.

Ken Sall presented on SKOSaurus. He explained that the government needs a common vocabulary of technical definitions that would apply across agencies. The XML Community of Practice wanted to create a process where Chief Information Officers could choose to or choose not to share terminology. SKOSaurus is based on ISO 2788:1986 and ANSI/NISO Z39.19. Sall gave some examples of overlapping government glossaries, such as the Defense Technical Information Center and the Center for Army Lessons Learned.

Sall showed how DTIC goes from general to specific terms. SKOS hopes to link the various federal thesauri in such a way that searches can be done semantically by software bots rather than manually.

Tyson Brooks of the International Association of Enterprise Architects was the last to speak. He explained the Enterprise Architecture Knowledge Digest, which will store and relate knowledge items pertinent to enterprise architecture in a common repository.

Edit -
Meeting notes

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