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Getting Started with ISO 15926

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  1. Abstract
  2. ISO 15926 Roadmap
  3. Getting Ready
    1. Read the Primer
    2. Join FIATECH or POSC Caesar - Get Involved in a Project
    3. Make a Map of Your System Landscape
    4. Gather Application Information
  4. Next
    1. Acknowledgements


Implementing ISO 15926 at the introductory end is relatively simple, with proven tools. Many organizations are realizing business benefits today. At the top end, ISO 15926 is evolving quickly, with new tools and implementation methods being developed, more or less, as we speak. This section proposes ideas for analyzing the information interoperability needs at your organization and planning the implementation of ISO 15926.

The purpose of this section is to give you a roadmap for implementing ISO 15926 at your organization. Of necessity, the roadmap will not be a single direct route to a single end-point. This means that you can start with limited goals, say, to map two interacting applications together using ISO 15926 part 4 (15926-4). Later on you can work up to a full 15926-9 façade.

So this section will not be like a route map from your travel agent showing the shortest route from your house to the beach. Instead it will be more like a roadmap of the entire countryside. For instance, if you lived in London, England and wanted to go the beach at Cannes, an easy way would be to take the Eurostar to the Gare de Nord train station in Paris, transfer to the Gare de Lyon, then take the train à grande vitesse (TGV) to Cannes.

On the other hand, if you channeled Rowan Atkinson and took a side road you would have a much more interesting journey.

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Figure 1 - A More Interesting Route to the Beach

ISO 15926 Roadmap

The goal of ISO 15926 is to remove ambiguity. Data exchanges operate more reliably when ambiguity is eliminated.

But removing ambiguity between information sharing partners can be labor intensive. Thus, the higher the ambiguity, the higher the cost to implement effective and efficient data exchanges.

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Figure 2 - ISO 15926 Roadmap

If you have read the previous section on Compliance Colors? you will know that there are a number of steps and decisions to make when implementing ISO 15926. These form a sort of roadmap from no compliance to full compliance.

  • Which templates and reference data content to use, from simple "dictionary level" naming to fully Part2-explicit-Part7 references to all content.
  • Whether to use reference content that is standardized within one enterprise, within industry communities, or with standards bodies such as ISO.
  • Which physical form to use to represent content at interfaces file exchanges to web-service API's, from XML schema to RDF-OWL representations.
  • The amount of content to support, both "payload" and "management metadata".

Getting Ready

With the exception of the first step, "Read the Friendly Manual", most of this isn't in a precise order. We suggest you start with something simple, and internal to your company.

Read the Primer

Well, actually, you're already reading it. But in case you linked directly to this page, start at the beginning. Select the "Primer Introduction" link in the big green box in the upper right hand corner of this page.

It is important to understand that ISO 15926 is a fundamentally different approach to making machines able to talk to each other and convey meaning. In the past we've viewed machine-to-machine communication as a technology problem, building more powerful processors, or writing more artful code. But we ran into the wall of not knowing how to handle the information. ISO 15926 sidesteps the powerful chips and Machiavellian code and focuses on modeling information.

Join FIATECH or POSC Caesar - Get Involved in a Project

Right now (this is being written in the late winter of 2009) is a good time to join FIATECH or POSC Caesar. ISO 15926 is being developed right now. The developers are accessible. If you join, there will be people to assist you getting up to speed. Along with getting help, you may end up helping others, too. This is a good thing.

Outside of working on ISO 15926, many of us are competitors. The natural tendency, then, is to horde information. But if we cooperate, interoperability of information gets easier, projects become easier, and as projects become easier and cheaper, the owners (who in the end, pay for everything) will be able to do more. The pie gets bigger.

Make a Map of Your System Landscape

You will need to know all the individual software applications your organization uses, where they get their input from, and where their output goes. Show all of the information exchanges. Your most important applications will probably already be mapped together either with custom programming or commercial middleware. Other information exchanges might be made manually with manual keyin every time, or exchange files in a neutral format, or perhaps ad hoc software. Show all of them, even if they seem to be working properly.

Gather Application Information

Dig into each application and understand the information it deals with.

  • Document the schema - catalogue what's there.
  • Uncover any special requirements. For instance, uncover any relationships that have to be maintained.
  • Understand what all the data items mean. Look for implied attributes. For instance, if an application was written for an organization that always used Imperial units of measurement, the original developer many not have thought to explicitly store Fahrenheit as the units of measurement.

You may not have to catalogue every data item in all of your applications but you do need to know everything about the information movements that you want to automate.


In the next section you will be examining all the information flows between all of your applications, looking for opportunities to remove bottlenecks.


Thanks to Robin Benjamins for the drawing Figure 2 is based on.


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