BPCCS is a prototype system developed at NIST to manage business process model metadata underlying integration activities. Business process models may provide significant part of Business Context information that describes the design intent, or intended usage, of a message standard profile. Central to the system is its business process model life-cycle management capability.
Business Context definitions can currently be added to Score, but they must be done so by hand. We want to automate this by integrating BPCCS into Score to make data exchange standards more precise and minimize the human intervention needed. In addition, we hope to use this integration to create a knowledge base of domain-specific terminology to foster greater reuse and collaboration.
The Score team is working on ways to efficiently reuse standards and their profiles. BC captures the intent of a message component or message profile, which is a subset of a corresponding message standard. Capturing that intent is essential to finding and reusing the right message components and profiles, and sharing components and profiles across business systems is essential to increasing interoperability.
Formal representations of Business Context knowledge and algorithms are very complex, and NIST is working to define them. Doing so would give CCTS-based standards greater usability and precision.
Standards take a long time to get confirmed. For example, each OAGIS minor release can take six months to two years to finish. In addition, some integration environments can remain in the same release of OAGIS for ten years. Agile standards lifecycle management is a research area that is working to release standards faster and more reliably. Score is achieving this in some ways, and we are working on several improvements that will allow standards to be released even faster and more reliably:
We are also working on increasing the number of standard languages that can be converted into CCTS and supported by Score. One is the Chem eStandards, a set of OAGi standards inherited from a chemical industry consortium that aim to improve e-business in that industry. Another is AgXML, which is being reviewed for its re-representation using CCTS and inclusion in Score. And finally MIMOSA, a set of supplier-neutral IT and IM standards that enable asset lifecycle management.
One of the reasons we are hoping to include many standards in Score is that it would allow many types of standards to be used together and combined. It would also let a standard message or document be expressed through multiple implementation technologies.
Lastly, the OAGi Mapping Specification Working Group is currently investigating the potential of linking enterprise vocabulary to standards and making mapping specifications and artifacts easier to use and reuse when they are done in CCTS-based standards, as opposed to using standards with different base representations, such as XML Schema/XSLT and JSON Schema/JOQL.
CCTS was initially released in early 2000 to advance the data exchange standards discipline, but it remained very difficult for industries to actually use it for this purpose until Score was unveiled in 2019. These are some challenges that researchers in NIST’s Engineering Lab and the Open Application Group (OAGi) needed to address to create Score:
Prior to Score, OAGIS, like virtually all other data exchange standards, was an exclusively implementation-based, document-oriented standard that contained an unwieldy collection of data definitions, models, and components. There was no thread to integrate these collections, and this made it difficult to create and use standards; even when standards were created for these collections, new requirements and technologies for data exchange would quickly make them outdated. Researchers in NIST’s Engineering Lab and the OAGi standards experts realized that what was required was a technically sound solution to harvest, restructure, and reorganize the standard data definitions and components for reuse; capture the complex, unwieldy universe of implementation specific artifacts; and transform this huge collection of knowledge-based resources into model-based, implementation-independent standard specifications. The technical work resulted in a well-structured, repeatable approach to transform existing standards resources into CCTS-based standards components and data types that could be managed in Score.
It was challenging enough to develop a new technology, but introducing that new technology into an existing standard that is actively developed and used proved equally difficult. We underwent an intensely iterative process of researching, developing and deploying Score so that it could ultimately pass both the capability and usability requirements of its users. This process took a number of years and inputs from many OAGi standards stakeholders.
NIST’s Engineering Lab and the OAGi standards development organization have worked together for many years to ensure that the technical developments are valid in the context of complex industrial systems integration scenarios. Without this collaboration, it would have been impossible to develop a technology that significantly addresses the extant issues in developing data exchange standards for integration and data exchange requirements that industry cares for. NIST received critical feedback from OAGi’s industry members, including manufacturing companies from aerospace, food, heavy equipment and other sectors, as well as software vendors and integration service providers. These companies’ early use and assessment of the Score tool was key to accelerating the adoption and use of data exchange standards in their production applications.