March 2014

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oBIX's new life in the OASIS

A quick history lesson and a new direction for
oBIX (Open Building Information Xchange) and
OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards).

Comments by Ken Sinclair
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Editor's notes;

The Public Review for 5 Open Building Information Exchange (#OBIX) Committee Specification Drafts causes me to try and refocus the industry on the history and the importance moving forward of these new standards as we are presently evolving to the main communications between systems and servers based on the vendors own proprietary brew of IT standards and this is failure in an open specification world.

I have been following and been part of promoting the oBIX movement since its inception in 2003. The history of oBIX is well documented on our web site and starts high above Chicago in a board room at AHRExpo 2003 when about 15 industry automation folks met to discuss the future of XML and web services.  The cloud had not yet appeared and we were all building on Eric Craton's and Steve Tom's definition of a web services and the web  A bit of insight on that below;

I first heard about web services / XML at the AHR Expo in Atlanta 2001 in a brief meeting with Eric Craton and Steve Tom of Automated Logic, held in the hallway of the convention centre. Eric explained his vision of how web services would change everything. I can still see the excitement in his eyes. As I grasped what he was talking about my excitement also started to build. Eric warned me that all this stuff was pretty bleeding edge and many conventions needed to be established by the IT industry to make it really useful. Automated Logic's early entry into web-based control with a full java platform allowed them to provide a strong lead in how web services might unfold. In January 2002 Eric helped me create a web services forum on our web site. Below are the opening remarks.

It is hoped that this starting point and our linked resources will open the industry minds to the importance of opening dialog now on how an Industry Web Services Information Model could evolve. The task of creating a Web Services Information Model or Models is important to us as an industry. If we do not take control of the data presentation of our dynamic information, the Information Technology or IT Industry will. It is important that our solutions seamlessly mesh with the IT industry, but it is even more important as an industry that we control the content and interaction of our information model or models. This article by Eric and Dave provided the corner stone of our web services forum.

Information Model: The Key to Integration
Eric Craton and Dave Robin, Automated Logic

My optimistic goal was to have a web services XML demonstration for the Chicago AHR Expo. This did not happen although much progress was made and a committee was formed with Paul as the Chairman. The politics of which industry organization this committee should belong to was amazing. The web services concept was much larger than all of our traditional organizations as it involved many other industries such as lighting, security, etc, as well as the IT industry. Paul and his committee chose to work with CABA the Continental Automated Buildings Association.

Extract follows:  The Building Controls industry has made great strides over the last 10 years in the creation of communications standards. Both BACnet and LonTalk are now viable, commercially accepted solutions that provide owners with open communications. Yet while we have made great progress in these areas as an industry, there has been an emergence of a larger, more globally accepted standard created by the world of Information Technology. In particular the broad acceptance and ever lowering cost of Ethernet / TCP/IP / XML communications is finding its way into our industry. Owners today are looking for:

 - Building Controls to utilize the infrastructure of their existing intranets and Internet.

 - Controls as a data source to help them better run their business.

 - Systems that follow the same standards as other IS and IT devices.

An Open Letter; To the Building Controls Industry on formation of Open Standards for XML and Web Services

Resulted in an initial meeting to gauge interest and begin planning held at BuilConn in Dallas on April 23rd, 2003 from 1:00 - 3:00 PM.

I attended this meeting and was amazed at the interest of the audience plus the depth of industries represented. The meeting had not only great physical attendance but also a good representation by conference call. The complete group got it, moving ahead in today's market is going to require working as a team. The committee was given a clear vote of confidence to keep moving ahead as fast as possible. It was clear that all industries were using XML and web services and all agreed that guidelines were required.

December 2003 EMAIL INTERVIEW with Paul Ehrlich and Ken Sinclair

What is oBIX?

Is there a point to why I am digging up all these dinosaur bones?

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Yes;  Last month, the OBIX Technical Committee released five specifications for public review. OBIX is a generic web service interface for control systems. OBIX started as a CABA project for BAS interoperability. This is the first update to OBIX 1.0 which was completed in 2005. The current public review runs through February 14. A link to the original announcement is at the bottom of this review.

You need to read Toby's column to get a sense of why this is important

OBIX, Smart TVs, and the Commercial Building

OBIX is a generic web service interface for control systems.

Who is OASIS?

OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) is a non-profit consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of open standards for the global information society.

30-day Public Review for 5 Open Building Information Exchange (#OBIX) Committee Specification Drafts


Please get involved and understand the value or not of these evolving specifications. 

In my review of oBIX's new life in the OASIS I now have a better understanding of the true power of Haystack. Although I have always been a strong supporter of this open source movement I like many did not completely understand that as well as embodying a naming convention it also contains a methodology of how to move this named data.

Please read this review for insight to this new open source option.

oBIX & Haystack -- Understanding where each fits. oBIX and the open source Haystack are both excellent choices to make data integration easy.

In several emails to the industry I have learned;

- oBIX and Haystack are both excellent to make data integration easy

- Haystack is good for tagging data so we can understand it

- BACnet is very expensive and difficult to use for data integration (at least from IT perspective)

To enable more streamlined communications of data between systems and software applications being based on the vendors own proprietary brew of IT standards we need to guide industry to use the evolving standards of either the open source Project Haystack or OASIS oBIX. This is as important to the industry as the adoption of open field bus standards like BACnet and Lon.  If not controlled the customer will need to become part of the vendors specific data communication approach and the data is not truly free. I am sure that no client wants to enter into a service contract to maintain data flow of a proprietary brew of IT standards yet that is where they are heading.


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