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L8 Subcommittee on XML New Work Item

12/11/98 Meeting Notes (by John McCarthy)

PRESENT: Elizabeth Fong, Glen Sperle, Tom Culpepper, Phong Ngo, Tom Kurihara, John McCarthy, Frank Olken (John and Frank remote from LBNL via telephone)

Unfortunately, technical difficulties (we think at the NIST end) prevented us from conducting the meeting using the Video Conferencing facilities that had been tested the preceeding day. Those difficulties resulted in nearly an hourís delay in starting the meeting. We were finally able to use a telephone connection, but that made it difficult for John McCarthy to chair the meeting from LBNL.


John reported that the XML panel for the Open Forum now consists of:

Renato Iannella, DSTC, Australia
James M. Galvin, Director, EC Technologies, CommerceNet Consortium
Sridhar Iyengar, Unisys and author of XMI proposal to OMG
Peter Murray-Rust, UK, author of Virtual HyperGlossary, Jumbo XML Editor, and co-developer of ChemML (Chemical Markup Language)
John McCarthy and Frank Olken, Berkeley National Lab


Tom Culpepper reported that L8 plans to adopt UML for the normative section of the revised 11179 Data Element Standard. It appears that XMI may be a good choice for XML representation of the 11179/X3.285 metamodel, since the Unisys tools can produce XMI DTD's from UML, and it creates hierarchical names necessary to produce unique element names. The XMI rendering of the Stewardship section of X3.285 that Tom gave Sridhar Iyengar is still relatively limited, since the Unisys tools do not yet translate relationships into an XML representation. Frank was confident they would be able to do so in the future, but that is a major limitation for the present.  Glen Sperle noted that relationships may be characterized in terms of three underlying types:
  • parent-child
  • master-detail
  • association/group-member

  • Glen will continue working on representing the Stewardship section of X3.285 by hand in order to include and experiment with representation of such relationships.


    John McCarthy showed a set of examples from the CIRCLIS Database in Envirofacts and the Environmental Data Registry which illustrated how we currently do not have a mechanism for representing the relationships between data elements on reports or forms (such as Envirofacts), corresponding data elements in underlying data bases (such as CIRCLIS, and data elements in registries (such as EDR). Frank Olken has proposed that a simple select/project/join syntax would probably suffice for most needs -- rather than the full power of a query language like SQL -- and we thus might be able to encode such mappings relatively simply using XML syntax.  Tom Kurihara noted that recent work on architectural forms may provide some useful ideas and tools -- see:
  • http://www.ornl.gov/sgml/wg8/docs/n1920/html/clause-A.3.html; and
  • a book, "Structuring XML Documents" by David Megginson.

    Glen Sperle suggested two primary motivations and uses for XML with regard to data registries:
  • exchange of metadata between registries; and
  • retrieving selected metadata and downloading it to applications (e.g., reports, forms)

    Meeting participants felt that we have not yet had enough experience to convey requirements through our liasons or to begin drafting an actual specification.


    Participants were anxious to avoid Friday afternoon rush hour traffic, so the meeting concluded shortly after 3pm EST.