Building blocks for government information exchange

Last Monday I taught the SAI workshop “Integratie: van EAI over SOA tot Cloud”. I explained that there are many technical web services standards (WS-*). But that there is little attention from software vendors for the standardization of the functional side of web services. There are few standard XML schema building blocks to assemble the message exchanged via web services. XML building blocks are rather coming from B2B standards such as OAG, GS1 or UBL.

A workshop participant from the Flemish Government pointed me to the OSLO specification (in Dutch) they have created. Very interesting initiative where the Flemish government standardizes the building blocks for services. Allowing different government entities to exchange information: municipalities, Flemish government agencies and the Belgian federal departments.

In the introduction of the document, they well explain that web services focus on the standardisation of the box, but not on the nuts and bolts in the box. (“Het lijkt alsof je wel de dozen standaardiseert, maar niet de bouten en moeren die er in zitten“).

To be fair, the OSLO spec doesn’t go down to the actual service definitions either. It focuses on the definition of information blocks that can be assembled and used in (web) services. The spec. focuses on both XML/XSD and RDF. The XML schemas build further upon XML building blocks from UN/CEFACT and UBL

The workshop participant also explained me that the OSLO specification is strongly related to the ISA initiative of the European Union. “ISA is a program launched by the European Commission to improve electronic cooperation among public administrations in EU Member States“. OSLO builds further upon the work of ISA.

Had never heard of the OSLO initiative nor the ISA program (while colleagues from Infront are actually involved). But that’s the fun part of teaching, you learn so much.

Author: Guy



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