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Metadata Working Group

Document Register

ISO/IEC JTC 1 / SC 32 / WG 02

XML Representation for
Data Registry Metadata Exchange

New Work Item Request for ISO/IEC JTC1/SC32/WG2



Proposer: Frank Olken and John McCarthy Date of Proposal: May 29, 1998
TC/SC: SC 32 Secretariat: ???

The Proposal

Title of Proposal: XML Representation for Data Registry Metadata Exchange
Standard or Report: Standard

Purpose and Justification:

The purpose of the proposed work item is to develop specifications for the encoding of metadata transferred to and from data registries. The proposed specifications would specify an XML encoding, either directly in XML (Extensible Markup Language), via XML DTDs (Document Type Definitions), or in RDF (Resource Description Framework), via an RDF Schema.

ISO/IEC JTC1/SC32/WG2, its precursors, and national TAGS, e.g., NCITS L8 of the United States been concerned with the development of standards for metadata, specifically for data registries. These standards, ISO/IEC 11179, and ANSI dp X3.285 Draft Standard for Metamodel for Shareable Data) have been concerned with naming, definitions, and specification of data element attributes, i.e., primarily content standards. Note, however, that there is some discussion of registration policies. However, to date there is no standard encoding for the exchange of this metadata. Current practice is to exchange this information encoded in a proprietary Microsoft Access database format. A standard interchange format for data registry metadata would facilitate interoperability of multiple data registries, which is widely viewed as a key to modular development of data element specifications Development of such a standard would facilitate the development, use, and particularly the interoperability of such data registries

We propose to develop such a standard. Specifically, we plan to use an XML encoding - either directly in XML or in XML-encoded RDF. Both standards are being developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). There is great interest in the development of commercial tools to use with XML and considerable interest in RDF. An XML/RDF encoding offers the opportunity to piggyback the implementation of ISO/IEC 11179 Data Registries on a broad base of commercial software tools. This should dramatically reduce the cost of ISO/IEC 11179 Data Registry development and facilitate interoperability of such registries. This will therefore accelerate the widespread adoption of ISO/IEC 11179 data registries.

Note that there is no competition with W3C, which expects that more specialized standards developing organizations will develop particular tag sets, i.e., XML DTDs or RDF schemas. Examples of such efforts include: the Dublin Core metadata content standard for document metadata.

The feasibility of the activity is affected by the pace and scope of the corresponding W3C standards development efforts concerning XML, RDF and RDF Schemas. Given the adoption of the XML 1.0 specification, and the recent releases of draft RDF and RDF Schema specifications we believe the time frame at which we can develop the tag sets is upon us. The most serious obstacle to the proposed standards development concerns the lack of adequate data type specification mechanisms in XML and RDF. This is well understood to be a major problem, and is expected to be taken up by the W3C XML Working Group later this summer. It has been suggested that the XML WG would like to see resolution of the issue by the end of 1998.

General applicability of this new standard will be constrained by the pace of adoption of the ISO/IEC 11179 standard.

Timeliness issues are discussed somewhat above. Initial XML and (draft) RDF spefications are available now, and more complete specifications, e.g., w.r.t. data types, should be available later in 1998 or early 1999. The ISO/IEC 11179 standard has been (mostly) issued, and the more detailed ANSI X3.285 was approved April 1998 and will shortly be published..

The urgency of this activity arises from two sources: the impending of release of XML/RDF enabled web browsers, EDI tools, etc. Interoperable data registries are need now to facilitate EDI, web searching, database federation, etc. Demand will only grow as more databases and EDI activities are connected to the World Wide Web.

Principal beneficiaries will be organizations using ISO/IEC 11179 data registries. These include government agencies, international scientific organizations, statistical agencies, health care agencies, corporations involved in EDI, industry-specific information standards organizations, who are engaged in the exchange and/or integration of data from various projects, vendors, customers. Consumers will benefit indirectly via enhanced interoperability of EDI software, improved web searching tools, etc.

The principal initial benefit of this activity concerns the accessibility of data registries and increased interoperability. Increased use of interoperable data registries will further facilitate the use of standard data elements greatly facilitated the interchange of data on the World Wide Web, e.g., EDI, and the federation of various databases. Failure to pursue this activity expeditiously will likely forfeit the data registry sector to proprietary solutions. It would also continue the fragmentation of EDI message formats.

It should be noted that Object Management Group has pursued related repository standards (e.g. API's) employing CORBA-based data interchange and API's.

Questions to be resolved:

Target Date: for first CD ... for IS
Estimated Number of Meetings: Frequency of Meetings: per year Date and Place of First Meeting:
Relevant Documents to be considered:
Relationship of the project to activities of other international bodies:
  • W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is standardizing XML and RDF - but wants to stay out of the content models (applications).
Liaison Organizations
  • W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)

Need for coordination within ISO/IEC or IEC
  • Maybe with SGML standards group

Preparatory Work:
  • [ ] A draft is attached for vote comment.
  • [ ] An outline is attached.

We nominate a project leader as follows in accordance with ISO/IEC/IEC Directives, Part 1, 2.3.4 (name, address, fax, and e-mail):

Frank Olken,
Email: olken@lbl.gov
Tel: 510-486-5891,
Fax: 510-486-4004;
Mailstop 50B-3238.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, California 94720
URL: http://www.lbl.gov/~olken/

John McCarthy,
Email: jlmccarthy@lbl.gov
Tel: 510-486-5307
Fax: 510-486-7891;
Mailstop: 50C
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, California 94720
URL: http://www.lbl.gov/~mccarthy/

Concerns know patented items:

  • [ ] Yes
  • [X] No

Comments and recomendations from the TC/SC officers:

Work allocation:

  • [ ] Project Team
  • [ ] New working group
  • [ ] Existing working group no: [_____]
Draft suitable for direct submission as:

  • [ ] CD
  • [ ] CDV
General quality of the draft (conformance with ISO/IEC/IEC Directives, Part 3):

  • [ ] Little redreafting needed
  • [ ] Substantial redreafting needed
  • [ ] No draft, outline only
Relationship with other activities:

  • In other organizations
Other Remarks:


Original document: http://www.lbl.gov/~olken/mendel/X3L8/xml.new.work.item.html


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