The interface standard is a specification, which, when adopted by orienteering software packages, will allow the packages to exchange information between each other. This will benefit event organisers and contribute to simplifying the organisation of orienteering events.
The draft specification is now available at the IOF web site, and comments are invited.
More information on the project is available on the internet at the address: http://www.orienteering.org/tdc/interfacestandards/index.htm
Among orienteers we have a common wish to benefit from using the latest technology.
A clear indication of this is the number of computer systems we use when we organise orienteering events. Each of the systems performs its own specialised task: Handling event entries, course planning, timing competitors, producing results, providing information for event commentary, checking electronic punches and last but not least, computers are used for mapping.
It can be quite an undertaking to make all these systems cooperate, and often much hard work is put in at events to ensure safe and reliable transfer of information from one computer system to another.
The internet is here and it provides even further opportunities and challenges. We have come to expect that event information and results are posted on the world wide web. Some events already accept entries on-line from their web page. Even more new systems are in sight on the horizon, such as web casting systems that can publish results, and position monitoring systems that can publish competitors’ positions in the forest, both of these in real time.
All this leads to the conclusion that there is a need for a simple means to enable all these disparate systems to communicate information in a reliable manner.
In order to address this need the IOF Technology Development Committee (TDC) took the initiative to launch an Interface Standards project.
A group of experts from national federations and orienteering systems vendors met in Oslo, Norway, in October 1998, and laid the foundation for the work, and agreed on the principles.
However, Information Technology people tend to be very busy. Therefore, the envisaged time schedule for the project proved too ambitious.
By now the project has been underway for 18 months. Nevertheless, the need for an interface standard is repeatedly being expressed. Thanks to the enthusiastic people in the Swedish Orienteering Federation software project, foremost Ted de St Croix, together with individual experts, it has now been possible to produce a first draft of the specification.
It is important to stress that what exists is a first draft of the specification, and that it is important that everyone concerned now expresses their opinions and contributes to assuring the quality of the specification.
We hope that all developers of software packages for orienteering, and other interested parties, will take part in this process. Tell us what you think; what needs to be changed for this to be useful for you; what do you need before you can start using the specification?
We feel certain that the specification can be of benefit to all orienteering software packages and their users.
The basis for the specification is the definition language XML (Extensible Markup Language), a World Wide Web Consortium standard, which is prominent within development of business-to-business transaction software for the WWW. XML is supported by all of the major software development tool developers.
On behalf of the project
Ted de St. Croix
For information on XML: http://www.w3.org/XML and http://www.xml.com