Development of a Marine XML: ICES-IOC Study Group on the Development of Marine Data Exchange Systems Using XML (SGXML)
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The first meeting of the SGXML resulted in the initial development of a plan to guide an investigation into how XML technology might best be used in an oceanographic context. From an IOC/IODE perspective, the requirement was to design a framework for an XML structure that data centres can use. It is thought that a mutually acceptable structure will solve many problems. A series of short presentations were given to illustrate XML developments in the various organizations represented. These presentations, predominantly served to initiate a series of discussions. The main requirements for an XML based exchange system involved the development of a document type definition (DTD) and standardised syntax for common content (code tables). With these, it should be possible to exchange data knowing the details of the content. Deriving a common data model is the key to XML developments. Related to this are various data relationships (internal and external), normalization, common dictionary development, common code tables and general data model description. Then, the description could be mapped to an XML syntax and thus produce a marine XML. It was recognized that the definition of tags, etc. was important. However, the importance of a common data dictionary stems from the distributed data system approach. If such a system sends out a request for data (e.g. using spatial-temporal-parameter query) and collects together data from different databases, and then pulls all collected data together, it would presently result in many different names for the same parameter. However the Group considered that all dictionaries must be considered equal and a system for mapping between the different dictionaries is necessary. An essential component of the development is a general data model containing a common structure. The Group plans to instigate development of a common data model on the basis of the full application domain (marine data in general). Russia will be leading this issue at a national level, to produce a general data model as the basis of a DTD for the widest possible domain. IOC has registered the domain name marinexml.net, which it established as a community portal for marine XML discussion.