Version 149 (modified by gordonrachar, 13 years ago)

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History of ISO 15926


Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Metaphor: Interoperability is Like Heavier-Than-Air Flight
  3. How We Store and Exchange of Textual Information
  4. How We Know and Understand Things
  5. How We Use the Internet to Find Information
  6. How we Store and Exchange Plant Information
  7. Next

Abstract

Interoperability of digital information became an issue almost as soon as computers made their way into engineering offices. Many organizations from around the world have been working on this topic for many years, from Owner/Operators, Constructors, Consulting Engineers, and Software Developers. Many standards organizations world wide are involved, some having been created just for this purpose.


Metaphor: Interoperability is Like Heavier-Than-Air Flight

There have been many attempts at interoperability, some fizzling out in a few years, some lasting until today. Different organizations, with different needs have tried slightly different approaches. All of these attempts have had to deal with how to convey the meaning of the data as it (the data) is being transmitted. Some solutions are based on limiting the scope of the data in order to simplify the task of conveying meaning, others attempt to allow unlimited scope.

At the lowest level, interoperability is extremely complex, just as the mechanics of flying is extremely complex. Fortunately, when it is mature, using ISO 15926 will be about as complicated as using flight is today. For instance, your humble author, sitting in the middle of Western Canada in the coldest winter since Al Gore started on the rubber chicken circuit, is right now thinking about using heavier-than-air flight. But if I do, I will not have to concern myself with things like power-to-weight ratios, or the exact curve of the wing to maximize the difference in air pressure between the upper and lower surfaces. I will simply phone my travel agent and book a flight to Mexico. Similarly, when ISO 15926 is mature, all most users will need to know is which button to push to connect to a business partner.

ISO 15926 is a solution to interoperability of plant information made possible by the confluence of four areas of interest:

  • How we store and exchange textual information
  • How we know and understand things
  • How we use the Internet to find things
  • How we store and exchange plant information

We may well end up with different tools for interoperability, just as there are many solutions today for heavier-than-air flight depending on one's need (glider, propeller airplane, jet airplane, helicopter, lifting body). But just as in flight, where the common element to all modes of flight is a particular shape of whatever is doing the lifting (wing, rotor, aircraft body), we are starting to see that the dictionary of terms is becoming a common element. In Figure 1, below, this is shown as the common use of ISO 15926-4, the reference data library.

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Fig 1 - History of ISO 15926

How We Store and Exchange of Textual Information

One of the first uses of computers, several decades ago, was to manage large bodies of written information. As software and hardware improved, this body of information had to be moved from the old systems to new systems. Rekeying was impossible.

From this need we now have XML, a transport language, that is a common medium for moving information. It is a marriage of the lowest common denominator, ASCII text files which virtually every computer system world wide can read, with the sophistication of being able to embed a great deal of machine-readable information.

ISO 15926 uses XML to transport information.

How We Know and Understand Things

Exchanging information between two well-known applications is simple because we know exactly what all the data values represent. but when we move toward worldwide antything-can-talk-to-anything, we can no longer be confident that we know what all the data values represent.

In order to transmit information reliably to a random receiver, we must have a common method of classifying things. This is the study of Taxonomy and Ontology.

ISO 15926 classifies plant objects using an open, extensible Ontology.

How We Use the Internet to Find Information

The amount of information that is available on the Internet is truly staggering. Unfortunately, most of it is junk. Worse, much of what isn't junk is not stored in locations that are intuitive to all Internet users. And because the information is not presented in a uniform manner, understanding whether a given piece of information is worthwhile or not usually requires a human being to sift through it page-by-page.

The vision of the Semantic Web is that human users will be able to launch intelligent agents to sift through this huge mass of data on their own. But to enable this we need a way of describing information in a manner that embeds some of the context humans use to understand things.

ISO 15926 leverages some of the tools developed for the Semantic Web.

How we Store and Exchange Plant Information

Most plant engineers are familiar with the issue of transferring the contents of a CAD drawing from one authoring system to another. (In North America the two dominant CAD systems are !AutoCAD and MicroStation.) But this is not a new issue at all. It goes back several decades to when we first used computers in engineering, and affects every industry that requires engineering.

The huge demand for free and easy exchange of plant information has spawned a great many initiatives. Some of these initiatives deliberately build on prior initiatives; many spring up on their own in response to specific demand, only finding out about others after they start work.

ISO 15926 is a direct result of many prior initiatives.

Next

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