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A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Interoperability? Are Standards The Answer? Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath.

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Presentation on theme: "A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Interoperability? Are Standards The Answer? Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath."— Presentation transcript:

1 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Interoperability? Are Standards The Answer? Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath URL UKOLN is supported by:

2 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Contents Interoperability, Open Standards & Open Source Why Open Standards? What Are Open Standards? Problems With Open Standards Role Of Open Standards Using Open Standards Open Standards & Software Why We Need QA Scope Of Open Standards

3 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Why Open Standards? Standards are needed: To provide application-independence – remember when documents were trapped into particular word processing software To provide platform-independence – allowing migration across PCs, Macs, Unix boxes, PDAs, etc. To support interoperability – allowing data to be integrated across systems To provide long term access to data – avoiding the digital dark ages To provide a coherent architectural model – which allows for evolution and integration To provide an open marketplace – allowing users to choice their preferred solution

4 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk What Are Open Standards? Open standards characteristics: Owned by acknowledged neutral body Specifications published openly (and freely?) Developments to specifications open to all Platform and application-neutral Relevant open standards bodies: W3CISOECMAIETF… Be wary of phrases such as user driven standards, market-place standards, etc. See

5 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk User-Driven Standards An alternative (New Labour) view Open standards bodies are bureaucratic, slow- moving, full of political intrigue, … The market-place needs to be fast-moving to respond to users needs Competition helps drives success All major players subscribe to this view (MS, Sun, IBM, Macromedia, …) Old Labour ideology is so last century These views probably arent accepted by bearded, left- of-centre Linux geeks – but may be held by the senior managers who are the target audience of this workshops deliverables.

6 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk The Bigger Picture There is more to service development than just standards Standards: concerned with protocols and file formats Architectures: models for implementing systems Applications: software products used to implement systems Resources: financial & staff costs needed to implement systems Open standards vs. Proprietary HTML / XML vs. PDF / Flash CSS / XSL vs. HTML GIF vs PNG Which standards are applicable NT / Unix File system / database application HTML tools / content management Development vs. Migration costs Use of in-house expertise In-house vs. out-sourced Licensed vs. open source Apache / IIS FrontPage / Dreamweaver Oracle / SQLServer ColdFusion vs ASP

7 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk What About The Users? What about our users? Do users actually want open standards or open source? If not, what strategies do we adopt to get them on our side, as the producers? Applications Standards Architecture Users Resources Users

8 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk The Problem With Standards (1) Is use of open standards the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything? Who remembers coloured books, ISO OSI Networking protocols, …? Warning: Open standards may not catch on Their can be competing open standards Open standards may be too immature for service deployment (RDF?) Open standards developers are human too! They can make mistakes, be driven by ego, …

9 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk The Problem With Standards (2) Scope What needs to be compliant: Only project deliverables, information about the project, the projects Intranet, Extranet, …? Spirit Of The Standards Papers submitted to WWW nn conference must be compliant HTML A paper I reviewed had the text included as several GIF images in a valid HTML page You can use open standards, be fully compliant and not be interoperable :-(

10 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Open Standards And Software Software Language Mandate use of (open) standardised software – which would prohibit use of Java Mandate standard client-side software but flexible on (managed) server environment Software Outputs Mandate procedures to ensure software outputs comply with appropriate standards (e.g. XML) Software Documentation Mandate use of open standards for documentation (XML, HTML but not PDF, …) Note that (draft) JISC Programme Guidelines have inconsistencies in this area

11 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk What Should We Do? JISC-funded QA Focus work: Developed QA methodology to help ensure project deliverables were functional, widely accessible and interoperable Self-assessment rather than external checking Promoted an open standards culture See Advantages: Reflects HE software development culture; tolerant of diversity (skills, resources, …); encourages sharing of best practices Disadvantages: Permits organisations to perpetuate existing, non-optimal practices; no guarantees of interoperability; woolly; … Advantages: Reflects HE software development culture; tolerant of diversity (skills, resources, …); encourages sharing of best practices Disadvantages: Permits organisations to perpetuate existing, non-optimal practices; no guarantees of interoperability; woolly; …

12 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Interoperability? We Must Have QA! The danger: We mandate (or encourage) use of open standards The community seeks to uses them But: Inappropriate standards / implementation architecture used due to lack of understanding Standards used – but in non-compliant way Flaws testing tools / procedures We thought wed be interoperable, but discovered were not QA Focuss framework based on documented policies and systematic checking of compliance with policies may help – see ECDL 2004 paper

13 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk A Holistic Framework For E-Learning Accessibility TechDis & UKOLN have developed a model (to be published in CJLT) for e-learning accessibility which recognises: External pressures e.g. funders, auditors, … Local technical infrastructure issues Wider technical developments Learning & teaching issues Usability & accessibility issues and focusing on the users needs Remember legislation expects organisations to take "reasonable measures"

14 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Framework For Interoperability Mandating open standards to ensure interoperability is probably a flawed approach Should we be developing a matrix approach which recognises various factors: The standards * (maturity, ease of use, …) Resource issues (costs, staffing, expertise, …) Infrastructural factors Cultural issues (expertise, preferences, willing to innovate, …) … User Standards Culture Resources Note this idea is at an early stage *A matrix for selection of standards is available

15 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Questions


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