Dear Friends, Associates and Industry Leaders:
This is an open letter, directed towards participants and leaders in the information technology communities who are focused on semantic-based data element identification, contextual representation (ontologies and taxonomies including frameworks for representing same) and communication of data element semantics within Web Services groups, the Semantic Web groups and e-business standards groups. We will not be frequently utilizing the list that was compiled for this introductory communication, but instead will compile a list of interested parties. Please indicate by reply if you are/aren't interested in receiving additional communications regarding this subject. Also, please forward this open letter to persons, organizations or publications that you believe will be interested.
** Introduction **
The Aerospace Industry Association's Electronic Enterprise groups (http://www.aia-aerospace.org
), the Association for Enterprise Integration (http://www.afei.org
), the Electronics Industry Data Exchange (http://www.eidx.org
) and others have been participating in the formation of an approach for identifying and managing semantic equivalency for data elements, and feel that this approach represents a potential approach for the IT industry, standards bodies and web services frameworks to move towards interoperability and convergence.
This approach is termed the Universal Data Element Framework (http://www.udef.org
), and is designed to provide a (semi) intelligent identifier, attached in some way to a data element (perhaps as an attribute within schemas or in an RDF based reference file), that can be resolved to produce an exact identification of the data element meaning.
This open letter describes, at a high level, a summarization of the usability of the UDEF within the various semantics/ontology/taxonomy communities, and the current status and efforts around the UDEF.
I am an active participant in the UDEF effort, and have been operating as co-chair of the AIA's UDEF committee. The opinions represented here are not necessarily those of the AIA http://www.aia-aerospace.org
or AFEI http://www.afei.org
who are the current stewards of the UDEF concepts and work efforts. I have recently left my last position as Practice Director over Enterprise Integrations at Envision, and am independent (http://www.geocities.com/johnchardin
). As a result, for official UDEF information please contact Ron Schuldt, Lockheed Martin. You may reach him at email@example.com
. I am continuing to work as a participant on UDEF efforts while seeking the next position, please feel free to contact me with questions or comments at anytime.
** Groups represented in the Mail list **
There are a several groups with numerous activities devoted to the above stated issue. Some of the more prominent groups and activities which have been included on this mail are:
- AIA's Electronic Enterprise Groups and Aerospace industry contacts
- Logistics and Rail industry contacts
- EIDX Technical Groups and Electronics industry contacts
- Healthcare industry contacts, from pharmaceuticals and disease management co's
- Open Application Group - Principals and the Semantics Working Group
- RosettaNet Technical Dictionary and other contacts
- ebXML Core Concepts groups
- OASIS groups
- WS-I groups
- OWL and RDF groups
- Semantic Web groups
- TopicMap Groups
- RosettaNet Dictionaries
- UBL Ontolog
- W3C xml:id (structural identifier for ontologies)
- Basic Semantic Registry
- Dublin Core
- Software vendors: Contivo, Oracle, others
- Various Industry standards bodies participants
** Usability Proposal **
There are a tremendous number of efforts on the net to establish the core stack for Web Services, including the basic protocols, security, multi-enterprise business process mechanisms and other items necessary for the vision of the Semantic Web and Automated Web Services to be a reality.
Many of us are working on semantic approaches, including some unifying vocabularies such as UBL. However, there appears to be a need for basic, open, cross-industry specific identification of data element concepts so that all our efforts can communicate between one another to resolve the exact meaning (and perhaps context) of data elements. This is the target function for the UDEF, to provide a number/alpha based identifier that is easily represented in existing formats (XSD,DTD or other formats) as an attribute, or in structural mechanisms such as RDF.
Few organizations trade and communicate only with organizations within thier industry. This presents a problem when partners are attempting to initialize e-business using two different formats: Which format is used? Which organization must remap the backend processes or middleware mappings to account for the new format? And, the question that the UDEF directly addresses: How do I know that your <POID> is the same data element concept as my <PurchaseOrderIdentifier>?
Looking forward to the Semantic Web, when an intelligent agent representing me attempts to communicate my medical history to a doctor in relation to an appointment: How does the doctor's medical record system know that the data in <currentmedications> is the same as their systems' element labeled <patientpharmacology>?
There are a multitude of industry standard XML ebusiness document formats, and some are emerging as horizontal across industries (OAGIS, RosettaNet and UBL are examples). Many are entrenched in specific industries (CIDX is a good example) and the application servers, messaging frameworks and backend mappings are already in use. In other words, the future of e-business may look like all companies utilizing a common business document format and dictionaries, but the immediate reality is that there are hundreds of formats in various depths of usage across the internet.
We believe that during the course of e-business, there does (and will continue to for quite some time) exist a core requirement to map the semantically equivalent data element concepts between standards and other formats (RPC, document-literal or otherwise), e-business document formats, ontologies, taxonomies, RDF structures and data dictionaries. A universal resolvable semanitic identifier can provide some relief at design-time (read: mapping projects between partners or internally on enterprise integrations projects) by providing a semantic equivalency reporting mechanism. A pilot of this is described below in the Status section of this email. This can also, given the right framework of services, possibly assist in bringing about the real-time vision of the automated discovery, integration and execution of trading relationships, without placing a human analyst in the middle.
Internationalization will also be greatly facilitated, by allowing a numbering format, instead of a language based format, as the pivot point in transformations on-the-wire.
The metaphor that we have found works best to illustrate the function of the UDEF is that of the Dewey Decimal System:
The UDEF attempts to label data elements in thier formats, as books are labeled in libraries, in a common, repeatable, resolvable, open way. The Dewey numbering system provides an intelligent identification and organizing capability within every library that uses it. (Caveat: this metaphor doesn't carry well outside the US, where schemes other than the Dewey Decimal System identify published works, but you get the point....)
I believe that we are at critical mass with this issue in the internet technical community, and would like to propose a collaboration of the efforts of the various groups included in this communication, to form perhaps an over-arching discussion and/or working group(s) that can further the work for the usage scenarios, architectural frameworks (including propogation of core trees across the net, much as the DNS network propogates), data element matrix publishing and sharing (including public vs. closed vs. private availability of UDEF labeled document references for standards formats and software vendors data dictionaries, etc.), and other necessary tasks to bring up a dynamic network of semantic identification nodes.
Perhaps this convergence will work into a W3C or OASIS (or both) sponsored recommendation spec.
Please take the time to review the UDEF materials that are on the UDEF web site, and comment via the forms on the site, or to Ron Schuldt (firstname.lastname@example.org
), or myself (email@example.com
) with ideas, comments, criticism, and reality checks. Or call me directly at the number listed below.
Domain Experts: Please consider involvement in the upcoming effort to build out data elements contained in the trees with data elements reflecting domain expertise, slated to begin Q1 2004.
If you wish to be placed on the maillist, or participate as a domain expert, in pilots, communicate ideas to the group, or anything else, please email myself firstname.lastname@example.org
and Ron Schuldt email@example.com
I extend this introductions and these suggestions with a great amount of respect to the participants in the various standards bodies. We are all working to stand up innovative, disruptive technologies and frameworks that are bringing about a new economy and great opportunity for us all.
Best regards, and thank you for so much of your time today.
** Current Status and Progress on UDEF Issues **
The perseverance of Ron Schuldt (15 years since the conception of the UDEF approach) is paying off, along with the efforts of a wide variety of groups and persons (thanks to you all). There is currently strong support or high levels of interest among the following groups:
Industry Associations and eBusiness Groups
- Aerospace, Defense, Electronics, Computer industries all providing support
- Automotive, Airline, Railroad interested
Private and Public Companies
- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Tyco Electronics, Envision, Ambrosoft and AMS
- Northrup Grumman, DoD Logistics and Korean Ministry of Defense are interested
- Contivo is supporting
- Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SeeBeyond, DataDirect, GXS and Unicorn are all interested
- Open Applications Group is supporting
- RosettaNet, ANSI X12 and others are interested
The UDEF teams in the AIA electronic enterprise groups have been working on several key items required to enable semantic equivalency across disciplines, industries and standards:
- Basic data element concept trees, based on ISO 11179 object and property words:
These have been created, maintained and communicated by Ron Schuldt.
The trees need to be built out to reflect concepts within many disparate industries.
We are now requesting participants and subject matter experts to help build out the
content in the property and object word trees. The trees are viewable on the
web site under Specs and Docs (UDEF Master Trees and Spec)
- Registry/repository architecture use cases for semantic trees:
The UDEF trees, or any open and globally available semantic identification framework
will require a structure that supports multiple views, searching, expansion,
transformation and various activities as yet unforeseen. The primary portion of this
(the permanent home of the tree documents) is not a UDDI or ebXML
The repository that would store standard-specific, software vendor-specific, or industry-
specific ontologies and taxonomies labeled with UDEF IDs could be enabled via UDDI /
WSDL or ebXML reg/rep technologies. A set of use cases, and some diagrams are
viewable on the www.udef.org
web site under Specs and Docs (UDEF Registry Use
- Structure for creating XML versions of the trees to be stored in the above referenced
reg/rep, searchable and capable of message based communication between nodes or
other architectures. We are currently conceptualizing this as RDF, and addressed via
namespace addressing for maintainability at the site of the matrix owner or perhaps
hosting locations. Details on the initial efforts can be viewed at www.udef.org
Specs and Docs (Current UDEF XML Architectural Design PPT and zip file), provided
- A number of white papers, presentations for 101 and 201 tutorials and other materials,
provided by Ron Schuldt, are available at www.udef.org
- The AIA and EIDX groups have together collaborated on a Web Services based proof
of concept. This POC provides two purchase order documents (OAGIS and xCBL) that
are labeled with UDEF IDs in the document instances (not considered to be good form
as a production ready structure for the placement of the semantic IDs) for the purpose
of a UDEF Compare Report. This can be referred to in the WSDL spec for the service.
The Compare Report application service can be viewed at www.udef.org
There is a detailed presentation that describes the effort, the approach
and the architecture (Linux, AXIS and a servlet / web service for independent reference
Planned efforts for Q3 2003 through Q2 2004:
- I will be constructing Usage Scenarios for submission to available W3C groups such as
Web Services Architecture and Web Services Internationalization. Ideas and assistance
- Implementation and Delivery Roadmap for standards bodies, software vendors, IT shops
to collaborate on implementation approaches and pilots, specs, etc.
- Selection of the .org entity to serve as steward, host and initial node for the
registry/repository, facilitator of the management board (envisioned as a cross industry
domain expert board) and the primary educational / certification authority.
- Production launch of the above mentioned .org hosted registry / repository and related
build out of the trees to reflect domain knowledge.
"Schuldt, Ron L" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 08:56:30 -0600
From: "Schuldt, Ron L" <RON.L.SCHULDT@LMCO.COM>
Subject: Presentation at UDEF Conference
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: "Decapua, David P" ,
"Bryant, William" ,
"Pallone, Michael J" ,
"Abt, Linda" ,
"Myers, Bradley B" ,
"Fadel, Chaker" , email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Attached is the presentation I will be making Tuesday at the National UDEF Conference in St. Louis hosted by Envision. See http://www.envision.com/feature/ for
On Friday last week at the CompTIA/EIDX Conference, Oracle, SeeBeyond, IBM, GXS, DataDirect Technologies and Unicorn Solutions became interested in the UDEF. Since there is no known solution to the semantics integration problem (according to the experts during a panel discussion - IBM, SeeBeyond, DataDirect and Unicorn), they all wanted to learn more about the UDEF. Bill French, President of EIDX, was moderator of the panel on Web Services and encouraged them to learn more about the UDEF based Web Service that was demonstrated earlier in the week. I pointed them to the UDEF.ORG Web site.
Based on a demonstration of Oracle's Web Service development tool, EIDX wants to pursue the possibility of using the Oracle tool to further refine the UDEF based Web Service.
Ronald L. Schuldt
Senior Staff Systems Architect
Lockheed Martin Enterprise Information Systems
11757 W. Ken Caryl Ave. #F521 MP
Littleton, CO 80127
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