Sunday, February 10, 2008

Product Specification

In the research that my group is involved in, one part involves having structured information of different products that can be used to build a system. We were looking to see if there is a (XML-based) standard that is used by the industry to describe the products by means of capabilities, futures, interfaces etc. It was a surprise to find out that none of the companies that we looked at (Freescale, TI, SiRF, Crossbow, Marvell, AMD, Qualcomm, Atmel). Most of these companies offer data sheets in pdf format; but the properties of their components, if they are stored in a database, it would not be that hard to produce XML files containing out of them. Oracle is been doing this since 9i by means of the SQL/XML (SQLX) standard. If you want to exchange data it is more likely that you will pull out the data you have stored in your database and format it as XML. Of course one alternative is just placing the data into pdf files... I am sure that XML Component Specification will be structured in the future using the XML format. The Web Services world has its WSDL; sharing business information is done more and more using XML based standards, such as RosettaNet, XML/EDI, ebXML, eCl@ss, xCBL, OAGIS, and so many more. Unfortunately, these technologies cannot be used to describe (hardware) components because they lack in the details needed.

I mentioned using the data one has stored in databases and store it under XML format. One way to achieve this, beside using SQL/XML, is model your component using SysML, and then exporting the model into XMI or XML. The problem with this solution is that different modeling tools use different sets of tags to describe the model. Another problem is that within the tools, the format differs from one version to another.

Solving all this problems should be done by standardization. Until then, we get by with what we have.

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