Standards body to adopt XML

Hopes XML will make it easier to exchange data

Standards New Zealand, the body that oversees the development of industry standards, is to convert its catalogue of more than 3,000 standards to XML.

The crown entity has put out a tender calling for expressions of interest in the conversion job and Standards NZ IT projects manager Blair Schmidt says Standards NZ is going down the XML path because the present arrangement, in which standards are stored as image and text PDFs, "isn't meeting our customer needs".

The idea is "to separate our content from its form and the way to achieve that is to use a globally accepted standard," Schmidt says.

The decision to convert the catalogue to XML was made following a review of Standards NZ's business conducted late in 2003 and early last year, which included customer feedback, he says.

The conversion will take 2–5 months and the new XML-based standards catalogue should go live in the third quarter of this year, he says.

The benefits of XML will include the ability to send standards to customer faster and more efficiently and a reduction in "multiple versions of 90% of the truth," according to the tender document.

"Having standards stored in one place in XML will give data integrity," Schmidt says.

"We can always go back to that one source."

The non-proprietary nature of XML was also an attraction, he says.

"XML is an open industry standard and we'll end up with the ability to be flexible and independent.

"If customers want something new, we'll be flexible and able to adapt."

With XML, it will also be easier for Standards NZ to exchange data with other organisations, he says.

Standards NZ has 57 staff in Wellington and also draws on the resources of 2500 professionals nationwide. It represents New Zealand at the ISO, the international organisation for standardisation.

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