NOST News

Volume 12, Number 1, March 1996
by John Garrett

The NASA/Science Office of Standards and Technology (NOST) is constantly working with other organizations to develop or adopt standards and recommendations to facilitate information transfer among NASA scientists. Currently, NOST is involved in two high profile activities as follows:

Good progress is being made in the archiving standards efforts sponsored by ISO and CCSDS. NOST is currently heading the U.S. efforts. Readers can browse an overview of the U.S. efforts starting at URL http://bolero.gsfc.nasa.gov/nost/isoas/us/overview.html.

ISO Archiving Workshops are the focal point for U.S. efforts. NOST reported on the First U.S. Workshop and the First International Workshop in previous newsletters. NOST is reporting on the Second U.S. Workshop in this newsletter. Workshop participants have been working on material for the Third U.S. Workshop to be held at Archives II in College Park, Maryland, on March 19 and 20, 1996. Outputs from that meeting will be submitted to the Second International Workshop to be held in Pasadena, California, on April 29 and 30, 1996.

On December 19-20, 1995, the Second U.S. Workshop on ISO Archiving Standards was held at the MITRE offices in Greenbelt, Maryland. This workshop was a meeting of the working group contributing to the development of a draft Archiving Reference Model. The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to suggest and discuss a number of alternative views for the reference model. A great deal of work was also done at this meeting to define the details of high level reference model components. Interested individuals can gain access to meeting minutes, the participants list, submitted papers, etc., starting at URL http://bolero.gsfc.nasa.gov/nost/isoas/us02/ws.html. NOST intends for the process to be entirely open to all individuals regardless of their ability to attend these meetings. Therefore, NOST is encouraging all participants to provide electronic copies of any materials they submit. When the materials are submitted electronically, NOST is making those materials available via the World Wide Web (WWW).

The major topic of the Second U.S. Workshop was continued development of an archiving reference model. The current draft Archiving Reference Model has been authored by NOST staff members Louis Reich and Don Sawyer. It is available in Word for Windows 6.0 at ftp://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/pub/sfdu/isoas/us02/Reich.doc or in Word for Macintosh 5.1 at ftp://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/pub/sfdu/isoas/us02/Reich.mcw. The NSSDC is well represented in these efforts as several NSSDC staff members are actively participating in these workshops. For example, besides the authors of the draft reference model, participants in the Second U.S. Workshop included NSSDC staff members Elise Blaese, John Garrett, Robert Stephens, James Thieman, and Steven Voels.

Interest in the archiving standards effort is widespread. Besides NSSDC staff members the current working group involves representatives from the National Archives, Life Sciences Data Archive, Central Imagery Office, Naval Warfare Assessment Division, Earth Observing System Distributed Information System (EOSDIS) Core System (ECS), Boeing, NASA Headquarters, Hughes Information Technology Company, Johns Hopkins University, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), Hughes STX, Tax Systems Modernization Institute, and MITRE. A much larger and even more diverse group of individuals are involved in less time consuming ways.

The Third U.S. Workshop is quickly approaching. This workshop will again be a meeting of people actively working on development of the reference model. During this meeting NOST hopes to finish developing U.S. contributions for the Second International Workshop that will be held in Pasadena, California, at the end of April 1996. Several other countries are actively working along parallel paths to generate material to be discussed at that meeting.

NOST is encouraging participation in the U.S. efforts by all interested parties. Levels of participation in the efforts range from simply tracking the efforts toward developing archiving standards to active participation in writing, editing, and reviewing sections of the documents being produced. Regardless of the level of effort readers may wish to devote to these efforts, they may register their interest by filling out the form at http://bolero.gsfc.nasa.gov/nost/isoas/us/registration_form.html. Readers who are unable to access the WWW form can respond by E-mail to Don Sawyer at sawyer@ncf.gsfc.nasa.gov.

The second high profile activity of NOST is its work in the data dictionary area. NOST is actively working with the CCSDS to develop recommendations in this area. A CCSDS internal draft of a Data Entity Dictionary Specification Language has been completed. NOST is working with some other NASA projects where there is a need for this to evaluate the usefulness of the current draft. NOST hopes to collect some significant comments and experience with the current draft to share with international colleagues at the forthcoming meeting in May 1996. Readers who have a particular interest in data dictionary work can obtain more information or get a copy of the working draft by contacting Don Sawyer by E-mail at sawyer@ncf.gsfc.nasa.gov.

As a final note NOST would like to update readers on the status of several CCSDS documents. The Data Description Language EAST - Specification Red Book has been approved and will be distributed in the next couple of months. CCSDS Red Books are draft standards that are issued for formal agency reviews. The EAST specification is "a definition of a standard language for describing and expressing data in order to exchange data in a more uniform and automated fashion."

The CCSDS Recommendations, CCSDS 641.0-B-1, Parameter Value Language Specification, and CCSDS 643.0-B-1, ASCII Encoded English were submitted to ISO some time ago and are now undergoing final balloting for acceptance as full ISO standards. Under the ISO numbering system these recommendations are currently draft international standards. They are ISO/DIS 14961 for Parameter Value Language (PVL) and ISO/DIS 14962 for ASCII Encoded English. NOST hopes to be able to report their acceptance as full ISO standards in a future newsletter.

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Author:Miranda Beall
Curators: Erin Gardner and Miranda Beall
Responsible Official: Dr. Joseph H. King, Code 633
Last Revised: 21 Nov 1996 [EDG]