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Last modified: May 06, 2000
Global Engineering Networking Initiative (GEN)

[May 05, 2000] Background: A group of European companies and organisations has established the Global Engineering Networking (GEN) Initiative to provide a collaborative network with intelligent nodes and services for large scale distribution and control of engineering knowledge. "GEN addresses business-to-business electronic commerce in engineering, necessarily covering the following aspects: (1) electronic communication between non-co-located individuals and teams involved in distributed engineering processes; (2) intelligent access to engineering information in electronic networks; (3) electronic publishing of engineering information."

The GENIS Project (Standardisation Support for Global Engineering Networking) was created to "identify, submit and validate new standards in the area of Global Engineering Networking. GENIS will base on various results from current GEN projects and will transfer the results from GEN research projects into standardisation organisations. Therefore GENIS will contribute to the standards on three levels: (1) Domain Specific Level: domain specific standards that describe a common nomenclature for engineering information of a sector. GENIS will focus on electronics validating IEC standards. (2) Semantic Level: definition of the engineering information in a system-neutral and computer-exchangeable format. GENIS will use the XML standard to define GEN XML DTDs. (3) Operational Level: definition of functionality for accessing the engineering information. GENIS will use the CORBA standard to define the operations in CORBA IDL."

"The GENIS project deals with standardization aspects for GEN on three complementary levels: (1) Standards that capture the domain specific nomenclature; (2) Standards that capture the semantics of nomenclature in a system-neutral format; (3) Operational standards for exchange and collaboration. A CEN/ISSS Workshop on Global Engineering Networking (GEN-WS) has been formed "to initiate and support the standardization in the area of Global Engineering Networking. GEN-WS will provide standards for interoperation and that enables to integrate applications and services."

Two of several related GEN activities include GENIAL and PROCAT(-GEN).

  • GENIAL Project [ESPRIT 22.284]: "The objective of the GENIAL project is to provide a substantial contribution to the vision of marketplaces for negineering products, services and information by establishing a Common Semantic Infrastructure. This enables enterprises from different engineering sectors to combine internal knowledge with engineering knowledge accessed on-line and world-wide via GEN. GENIAL provides: A framework for the systematisation of engineering knowledge; Generic GENIAL software for the access, insertion, administration of distributed engineering information and services like product information or documentations on electronic components, building specifications, simulation or calculation programs. Electronic marketplaces using the software in the sectors civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. Currently, the Common Semantic Infrastructure (CSM) consists of a set of XML DTDs for the representation of Classifications, including hierarchies of categories and category attributes, and so-called GENObjects, which are meta-data entities for products, services and documents. Besides the representation of just classifications (in order to ease search and provide a common view on GENObjects) and the objects themselves (by attribute-value pairs, keywords, and relation to other objects), GENIAL has defined a CORBA Interface for searching and retrieving GENObjects online."

  • PROCAT-GEN Project: Telematics IE 8035 Application Area: PROCAT-GEN is "a project to create pilot applications for preparation and network delivery of multi-media product catalogues for engineering components. PROCAT-GEN is an innovative application of SGML, network and multi-media technology to bring real benefits both for the users and suppliers of product catalogues: attractive online catalogues with a much richer content and a more creative use of multi-media; faster and easier information access by using more intelligent catalogue structures; improved quality of use through integrated online services offline catalogues can not provide; improved efficiency and increased productivity of the catalogue production process by support for the catalogue lifecycle and the seamless conversion from and to electronic formats; longevity, reliability and maintainability of the catalogue data is obtained by separating the content from the actual layout and publishing format of the catalogue ; a common structured source to publish to multiple media (online, CD-ROM and paper); added value from marketing and customer support through integrated services; an open system supported by commercially available products and technology; a common method enabling to interchange data within Global Engineering Networks. Currently, the main result of PROCAT-GEN is the definition of an XML exchange format between the so-called Product Information Management System (PIMS) and the actual Online Catalogue System. The PIMS manages all product data relevant for catalogues and provides a central repository from which information is delivered to the Online Catalogue as also to systems for publishing the the data on other media like paper or CDROM. A PROCAT-GEN conformant electronic catalogue system (Online Catalogue) is able to import the catalogue from the PIMS by means of PROCAT-GEN's XML interchange format or even to re-import it in to another PIMS. This enables a distributor to use the manufacturer's catalogue data in order to add information or build up new offerings without having to reenter it again. PROCAT-GEN's XML DTD were developed with the same metadata model in mind as GENIAL uses, there a close relationship exists between both. Where GENIAL concentrates only on metadata, PROCAT extends the model further for multimedia information pertaining to catalogue entities (or objects)."


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