Navy steams ahead with official XML rules

The Navy has taken the federal lead in setting enterprisewide naming and design rules, or NDRs, for use of Extensible Markup Language in all systems.

NDR 2.0 will go public today on the Navy's site.

Navy Department CIO David M. Wennergren said in a memo that the rules will ensure that all service systems exchanging data with XML are 'based on a consistent set of schema' to align them with the Defense Department's network-centric data strategy and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model.

NDR 2.0 also will give the Navy's ForceNet a common structure for handling information, Wennergren said.

The service's NDR, under way since 2001, 'adheres to the Office of Management and Budget's policy for voluntary consensus standards' instead of idiosyncratic standards, said Mark L. Crawford, senior research fellow at LMI Government Consulting of McLean, Va.

Crawford said the XML mandate puts the Navy 'absolutely in the lead' among agencies. 'No other agencies to my knowledge have reached a Version 2.0.'

The Navy has taken an active part in international standards groups such as the World Wide Web Consortium and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, he said. NDR 2.0 follows the Universal Business Language naming and design rules, which Crawford predicted will become an OASIS standard 'in the next few days.'

NDR 2.0 also will 'provide for implementation of International Standards Organization 11179 concepts and ISO 15000-5 ebXML core components in XSD Schema,' Crawford said. ISO 11179 standardizes terminology of metadata registries; ebXML is the electronic-business version of XML.

The 160-page NDR 2.0 applies to all commercial and government applications used by the Navy. Among other things, it mandates simplicity, broad applicability, straightforward usability over the Internet, lowest-common-denominator tools such as Microsoft WordPad, component reuse and a strict orientation to data rather than documents.

Bob Green, who works in the DON CIO's office and is a member of the Federal XML Working Group, said the naming and design rules document does not run counter to the move to revise the Federal Enterprise Architecture's data reference model. Michael Daconta, the Homeland Security Department's metadata program manager, is spearheading the move to revise the model to enable easier exchange of unstructured as well as semistructured data among different agencies' systems.

'We don't feel there's going to be a major disconnect between what Mike's doing with the data reference model and what we're doing in the Department of the Navy,' Green said. 'Basically, we're trying to bring DON and hopefully all of DOD aligned with what the Federal Enterprise Architecture is doing.'

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