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CHIPS Articles: The Department of the Navy Issues XML Naming and Design Rules

The Department of the Navy Issues XML Naming and Design Rules
By CHIPS Magazine - October-December 2004
The Department of the Navy (DON) has updated its initial guidance on the use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) by issuing new DON XML Naming and Design Rules (NDR). These rules require standardization of XML development and implementation within the DON. More than a coding language, XML is a system for defining languages that provides a means of creating an environment that facilitates and supports adaptable business processes and a net-centric environment. Standardization of XML throughout the DON is critical for interoperability and will ensure that DON applications and systems are being built on commercial products rather than proprietary government requirements.

The NDR is a tool for developing robust enterprise level XML, an approach that allows for a catalog of reusable XML components – elements, attributes, types, schema – that will ensure that XML enhances, rather than detracts from, DON enterprise interoperability. The result will be an environment that is sustainable, responsive and agile. The NDR in conjunction with DON XML Policy requires program managers to avoid using proprietary extensions or XML schema and other elements that are specific to a vendor's software.

"Many program managers and vendors are adding customizations to specifications in an attempt to build market share, which leads to proprietary implementations and expensive middleware solutions," said Robert Green, lead for the DON CIO XML Interoperability and Standards Team. "We're mindful of that. By prohibiting proprietary extensions as part of the DON XML Policy, specifically articulated in the NDR, we are proactively seeking to ensure that vendors adhere to voluntary consensus standards in their products."

DON contractors will now know exactly what is required for DON XML, instead of being presented with competing XML requirements for different entities within the Department. Compiled in a 170-page handbook, the NDR provides specific rules that require conformance for consistent XML development and enterprise interoperability. It also provides closure for a number of standardization issues that were unresolved when the NDR's predecessor, the DON XML Developer's Guide, was published in 2002.

The handbook contains standards-based rules for 18 XML categories, including: attribute declaration, element naming, namespace management and schema structure modularity. The DON XML Work Group developed the NDR, working in close partnership with representatives from voluntary consensus standards bodies such as the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

This new version incorporates key voluntary consensus standards such as ISO 11179 Metadata Registry and ISO 15000-5 ebXML Core Components, aligns with the forthcoming Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model and is based on the OASIS Universal Business Language Technical Committee and UN/CEFACT Applied Technology Group XML Naming and Design rules.

By basing the NDR requirements on voluntary consensus standards (VCS) from leading standards bodies such as OASIS, UN/CEFACT, ISO and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the DON is also supporting the goals of Public Law 104-113 and the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119, which encourage agency use of such standards.

The NDR is available as an Adobe PDF at on the DON XML Program page or at It will also be published in HTML and XML formats.

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