|ceXML - an XML vocabulary for building and civil engineering: Master thesis|
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As said before, the building and construction industry needs to increase it's capacity to use communication and to provide information. This will lead to lower costs and better constructions. It has to be very affordable and easy to use, or the majority of small companies will not even bother to consider using new communication technology. So the Internet (with it's cheap and easy access) seems to be the best candidate for the position of communication medium. But the medium alone is not enough, a means to communicate the message is also needed, which in turn also has to be affordable and easy. Simple HTML and webpages are not enough, HTML is only markup (how it looks like) and there is not a drop of meaning ("this is a door"). We can argue that XML will fulfil the need for meaningful communication.
The subject of this research is whether XML can be used to provide a common set of notions (a vocabulary) for the building and construction industry so that meaningful exchange of information by means of the Internet can become possible.
To restrict the scope of research, I compiled the following three objectives. They are guided partly by my role in the eConstruct project, (investigating XML and related technologies) and by the need to provide a prototype as a proof-of-concept.
Investigating the state of the art of XML and related technologies, as well as related vocabularies and related developments like EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and PDT (Product Data Technology). The Delft University of Technology had to investigate this for the eConstruct project. This investigation had to result in a public document outlining a 'baseline' for eConstruct. The content of Chapter 4, Chapter 5 and Appendix A has partly been used in eConstruct's first public document (eConstruct's deliverable D101, see www.econstruct.org).
The design and implementation of a vocabulary, separate from eConstruct's work at making eConstruct's vocabulary (named bcXML, Building and Construction XML). My task is to make a simple prototype vocabulary, allowing the mapping of one language into another. Required input was the LexiCon meta-model (the section called LexiCon in Chapter 5). The model has to deal with prefab concrete elements, a field eConstruct decided to concentrate upon for the time being, mostly because the Greek partner in the project is a supplier of prefab concrete elements.
Testing of the vocabulary by means of a simple application. A vocabulary by itself is not enough to prove that the concept can work. A prototype has to be designed in order to test it. eConstruct concentrates it's effort at first on the buying/selling phase, because that is a regular, known form of e-commerce and it will be relatively easy to gain widespread acceptance of that part of eConstruct's functionality (thereby paving the way for usage of eConstruct's bcXML for other purposes). To preserve the link with eConstruct, the prototype will concentrate on the buying and selling phase also.