SIF Association

This blog is run by the staff of the SIF (Schools/Systems Interoperability Framework) Association for the use of it's members and the general educational community.

It is specifically designed for those who are interested in understanding what SIF is about, where the standard is going and how Schools, Districts and State Educational Authorities will benefit.

Monday, July 23, 2012

SIF v3.0 Infrastructure "Commandments"

Work is currently well underway on defining the new SIF v3.0 infrastructure ... the "wire" part of "CEDS on the Wire".  It is being guided by the following set of informal development “Commandments”, which give a flavor of what that wire will look like once it it completed.

The SIF v3.0 infrastructure:
  •  Shall leverage functionality now provided by modern middleware technologies 
  •  Shall provide a clear migration path for current suppliers and end users of SIF infrastructure technology
  • Shall lower the barrier to entry for new vendors, thereby helping to increase the number of new SIF infrastructure technology providers.
  •  Shall not drop any existing functionality (whether optional or mandatory) in the current release which has been utilized by significant numbers of SIF end users, without supplying a viable alternative - because issuing a new release will not change the underlying use cases.
  • Shall be capable of reuse without change to support the Data Model of any SIF locale (US, AU, UK).
  • Shall extend and not compromise existing data security
  • Shall not weaken "out of the box" interoperability between SIF-conformant applications.
  • Shall extend the SIF standard into new developer environments such as REST without fragmenting SIF adopters into separate non-interoperable communities.

 In the next posting we will explore the extended set of high level infrastructure functionality which will be supported by SIF v3.0, in accordance with the above commandments.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

SIF Implementation Specification (US) 3.0 release

The SIF Implementation Specification (US) 3.0 is on target for delivery at the end of the year, and it represents the first new “major version” release of the SIF standard since 2007.  If there was a one sentence description of the value proposition driving the development of this release, it would be “Putting CEDS on the wire”. 

Essentially this means:
  • The SIF Association will continue to be a core contributor to the ongoing Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) development effort led by the US Department of Education.
  • The entire CEDS Logical Data Model spanning Pre-K, K-12 (already in 95%+ agreement with SIF) and Higher Education, will be mapped into a SIF Physical Data Model spanning the entire US Educational Domain, and additional SIF elements will also be incorporated.
  • The resultant “CEDS-driven Physical Data Model” will be placed on-the-wire by defining the underlying formats, context, exchange patterns, transport options and security constraints (i.e. the infrastructure) over which information in compliance with this model can be exchanged.
The end result is a standard that provides interoperability between all SIF-conformant educational applications exchanging CEDS-defined data elements to provide and support state and district-wide solutions.  In addition, much of the effort to achieve these objectives will be focused on developing the underlying tools and techniques required to map any locale-specific Logical Data Model to a Physical Data Model.  The resulting artefacts should be reusable in affiliated SIF standard development efforts undertaken by the other SIF locales (AU and UK) in support of their own Logical Data Models.

Keep your eye on this blog over the coming months, where we will be discussing several aspects of this release in more detail prior to its official release towards the end of the year.