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RE: Genuine interoperability & the tower of Babel

From: Ugo Corda <UCorda@SeeBeyond.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2003 08:46:30 -0700
Message-ID: <EDDE2977F3D216428E903370E3EBDDC90812C2@MAIL01.stc.com>
To: "Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler)" <RogerCutler@chevrontexaco.com>, "Champion, Mike" <Mike.Champion@SoftwareAG-USA.com>, "Frank McCabe" <frankmccabe@mac.com>, <www-ws-arch@w3.org>

I recently came across an initiative that seems to address this type of issues. It's called Universal Data Element Framework (or UDEF - see http://www.udef.org/). According to its Web page, "the objective of the UDEF is to provide a means of real-time identification for semantic equivalency, as an attribute to data elements within e-business document and integration formats".

If somebody else knows of similar initiatives, it would be nice to mention them in our document.

Ugo

> -----Original Message-----
> From: www-ws-arch-request@w3.org [mailto:www-ws-arch-request@w3.org]On
> Behalf Of Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler)
> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 7:26 PM
> To: Champion, Mike; Frank McCabe; www-ws-arch@w3.org
> Subject: RE: Genuine interoperability & the tower of Babel
> 
> 
> 
> I agree with Mike's answer -- but I also agree with Frank's analysis.
> Three or five years ago we sort of thought that the XML bandwagon was
> going to solve this by industry-wide efforts to define common formats
> for core data.  I know this very well because I wrote various program
> plans based on this assumption that I now either live with or modify
> accordingly. Whether this did not happen because it is very difficult,
> or whether it didn't happen because there was no analogy to MS/IBM/BEA
> to force the process is probably not relevant -- it has not happened.
> 
> This is a shame, but we must somehow struggle on.
> 
> So, Frank, granted that this is a problem, and an expensive one, just
> what do you propose doing about it?  Weeping, gnashing our teeth and
> rending our garments is probably indicated, but once we have done all
> that, do you have any other suggestions?
> 
> I would personally not be very receptive if your suggestions involved
> starting over from square one in the WSA. 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Champion, Mike [mailto:Mike.Champion@SoftwareAG-USA.com] 
> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 9:10 PM
> To: Frank McCabe; www-ws-arch@w3.org
> Subject: RE: Genuine interoperability & the tower of Babel
> 
> 
> 
>  
> 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Frank McCabe [mailto:frankmccabe@mac.com]
> > Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 9:40 PM
> > To: www-ws-arch@w3.org
> > Subject: Genuine interoperability & the tower of Babel
> > 
>  
> > The tower of Babel referred to above is the huge number of
> > application-specific systems that can't leverage each other 
> > because of trivial but lethal incompatibilities. There has to 
> > be a better way.
> > 
> > Before we look at solutions, it is helpful to see that there
> > is a problem. Is this analysis off the mark, and if so, why?
> 
> I'm not sure.  There's a danger in taking things one step at a time if
> the steps don't lead anywyhere, e.g. climing a tree as the 
> first step to
> get to the moon. But there's also a danger in saying that it does no
> good to get to the moon if you really really want to reach the stars.
> 
> Let's look at the world of 15 years ago vs the world of 
> today, the near
> term future, and the future we want to shape.  15 years ago a typical
> computer simply could not communicate with another computer chosen at
> random, except very inefficiently and with all sorts of human
> intervention (remember zmodem etc.?). That's because there 
> was no common
> wire level protocol or addressing scheme (in widespread use 
> anyway).  10
> years ago the Internet solved that problem at the lowest level for at
> least the typical commercial/university system, but there 
> wasn't much in
> the way of common data formats or application-level 
> protocols.  5 years
> ago HTTP and HTML solved those problems for human-readable 
> text, but not
> for machine-machine interaction without human intervention.  Today XML
> and SOAP/WSDL are providing the framework for machine-machine
> interaction, but there are a bazillion details such as transactions,
> choreography, security, etc. etc. etc. that have to be worked 
> out in an
> ad hoc way.  In 5 year we'll presumably have this stuff standardized,
> BUT THEN we will still face the problems that Frank is 
> talking about.  
> 
> So, I think that the WSA document needs to focus on the issues facing
> the next few years, and simply make reference to the problems of
> automating the semantic alignment of operations and data that 
> will still
> be there when the short-term issues are solved. 
> 
> So, there is a problem, but lots of useful work can be done without
> solving it, and there are worse problems to solve first. After all,
> businesses have been coping with these semantic mismatches 
> for centuries
> while the mechanical aspects of business communication have been
> improved.  Sure, at some point the mechanical stuff will be 
> nailed down
> and then the labor-intensive, error-prone approaches used by 
> application
> writers to align semantics will be the worst problems that systems
> integrators face, but there is a lot of work to do before we 
> are in that
> situation.
> 
> 
> 
> 
Received on Tuesday, 23 September 2003 11:46:32 GMT

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