Tuesday, April 8, 2008

AIXM is promising...

For the last few months, I have been indirectly involved in reviewing and doing analysis on the Aeronautical Information Exchange Model (AIXM) XML standard. After doing some initial review and attending the AIXM User Conference 2008, I believe this XML standard has a lot of promise. Here are couple of reasons:

  1. Built on a mature and stable standard - AIXM is built on the Geography Markup Language (GML) which is a well accepted Geospatial standard. I believe this is a smart move from AIXM's perspective. AIXM can be used by all GML compliant applications with minor tweaking. When I asked the AIXM folks on why certain elements are modeled a certain way, their answer was that they tried to follow the GML standard. I believe this is a valid answer since they are merely extending the GML standard.

  2. Domain specific - Unlike the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) which has multiple domains, AIXM only addresses the aeronautical domain. Once again this is smart from a governance perspective since their Communities of Interest (COI) are limited. Even though NIEM allows various groups take ownership of each domain, NIEM is facing a problem with harmonization of data entities within the NIEM domain.

Things I would like to see from the next AIXM version:

  1. Polish, Polish and Polish - Since AIXM is a international standard, I would like to see the standard XML schemas to be polished which includes:
    • adding annotations to each datatype and element
    • remove embedded elements within datatypes and elements and expose each datatype and element. This will make the standard more flexible and loosely coupled.
    • each element is uniquely named, this is quite common in the AIXM standard now since there are embedded elements in the datatypes

  2. Publish XSL files - If AIXM published XSL transformation files, then it will be possible for applications to easily migrate to new versions of AIXM. I know this will take alot of work but I believe it is worth it.

  3. Extract Geospatial data from Aeronautical data - I know that AIXM is an extension of GML however geospatial data is very bulky and can cause bottlenecks in a system. I would like to see pilots where non-geospatial data in AIXM format are serviced through a XML based service. Each element in the non-geospatial message can be mapped to geo-spatial AIXM element or message.

I think AIXM can be used as cutting edge standard. Since AIXM has just introduced the concept of time or temporality in its standard, I believe this offers the biggest promise. With temporality, I envision AIXM capturing some of the aeronautical business processes and eventually aviation systems will be using AIXM instead of BPEL and BPM. The problem with BPEL and BPM is that it is too generic and sometimes it cannot be modeled well for a specific domain like aviation. I might be dreaming but entities like AIXM should consider this option after all a BPEL file is nothing more than an XML file.

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