Any business can benefit, from the solid foundation that standardization brings. The development of new technologies and opportunities, to share and enhance existing practices, are just two of the many benefits, to be derived. Furthermore the economies introduced by standardization dramatically reduce tooling and process duplication while increasing the competency of the work force while the efficiency and effectiveness of standards can ultimately save lives.
However, for enduring economic health and prosperity, the adoption of standards that support interoperability between business partners, is essential. In recent history there has never been a period of standards development like that which we are currently experiencing. Communication circles the globe in a click while global competition is on our doorstep 24x7 and legislation-driven change is creating a tsunami of disruption and opportunity where standards offer navigation and increased survivability.
Interoperability,- that is, the ability to transfer and use information in a uniform and efficient manner across multiple organizations and information technology systems- underpins the level of benefits accruing to enterprises, government and the wider economy through e-commerce. To enable two information systems to interoperate, they have to be implemented based upon a mutually agreed set of specifications covering both the business aspects (e.g. how the business activities of one party interact with those of its business partners, what the legal consequences of such interactions are, what information needs to be sent from one party to another, the semantics behind the exchanged information, etc.) and the technical aspects (e.g. what protocol and message format should be used to send information from one party to another).
Successful communication has traditionally been effected by laborious and error prone processes. It takes the “dedicated” quite some time, to gain a degree of familiarity with the dense and interconnected style in which XML schema specification is written. Most people simply cannot afford such a luxury. Meanwhile on the receiving end the user finds it very difficult to decide whether the error is in their schema/instance or a bug in their processor.
In the standards area the Schema Composer in EA 12 represents a key enabling technology. Standards and frameworks such as NIEM and SWIFT provide the grammar to communicate between organisations and at low level, this requires a common information model. The Schema Composer allows an organisation to quickly create XML files in XSD which specifies how to formally describe the elements in an XML document. This description can be used to verify that each item of content in a document adheres to the description of the element in which the content is to be placed, enabling propagation of data between different organisations. With these types of data interchange you want to be able to define various interchanges that support communication of details from sub-sections of your broader schema. For example, as a vehicle manufacturer you may want a data interchange with a parts supplier which involves a different data interchange that you would have to a retailer selling your models. These can involve different data sets, with specific data types, from the same overall schema.
For more information or to evaluate the Schema Composer please visit www.sparxsystems.com and download a copy of Enterprise Architect version 12