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Re: [xml-dev] Is a collection of independent, unrestricted elementdefinitions a "data exchange format"?

If you ask me, you've got a loosely defined data exchange format.  I'd hesitate to call it a data model since it doesn't model anything in particular. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing in my book...  Among other places, I've recently I've seen some explicit calls for very loosely constrained data exchange formats in parts of the "big data" world.  That might be vendor drive in some cases, at least part of the thinking is something along the lines that if we can build a generic way of getting the data back and forth we can use big data analysis to figure out what it means. Other than possibly duplicating the effort of analysing  and classifying the data on multiple systems I personally prefer the loosely coupled approach over trying to build highly constrained (and possibly brittle) data exchange formats.

Peter Hunsberger

On Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 11:06 AM, Costello, Roger L. <costello@mitre.org> wrote:
Hi Folks,

Suppose I create a data model (an XML Schema) that consists of a collection of independent, unrestricted definitions. The data model is to be used by communities that are quite different. Would you call the data model a "data exchange format"? Or would you call it something else?

Example: I declare an <Object> element that consists of an abstract <Value> element. I then declare a wide variety of elements that may substitute for <Value>:

- <House>
- <Aircraft>
- <Cellphone>
- <Book>

Notice that they are very different things.

Very different XML instance documents could be created from the data model: For sending to my realtor, I could create an instance that describes a house:

      <House>ranch style, brick</House>

For communicating with an officer at a military base I could create an instance that specifies an aircraft:

            <MaxAirspeed>650 MPH</MaxAirspeed>

And so forth.

Clearly the data model contains items that are very different and are intended for different audiences.

The data model is too nebulous and too open-ended to be called a data exchange format (I think). For me, a data exchange format is something that specifies precisely the type of data that will be exchanged: If I am exchanging data with my realtor, a data exchange format would specify that XML instances will contain <House> data and not, say, data about an <Aircraft>.

It seems to me that my unconstrained data model is not a data exchange format. But what is it? What would you call a collection of independent, unrestricted element definitions?



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