TECHNOLOGY IS CONFUSING
The vast technical world can be vastly confusing for most of us out there. Written in a language of acronyms and abbreviations, getting a handle on it all can be overwhelming. The technology of swimming is no different.
Some clubs and local swim committees enter data by hand and paper, while others operate with electronic submissions. Synchronizing all of this data can be not only tedious, but also time consuming and complicated.
To simplify things, USA Swimming had developed a standard format that promotes easy exchange of data, as well as the development of new computer programs and services. The goal is to preserve the valuable effort of our volunteers who spend their time processing meet entries and times information.
HOW TO SIMPLIFY TIMES
Our program is based upon the original SDIF v3.0 data interchange format. The new XSDIF format addresses the limitations of SDIF in several ways. First the format has been transformed from using fixed column text files to using XML. XML is being adopted all across the computer industry as the best way to transmit data between systems. There are many reasons for the rapid adoption of XML some of the more important are:
- XML is plain text so that it can be read on any computer system.
- XML is self-documenting so that a human can open an XML file and have some idea of what data the document contains.
- XML is extensible.
- It is easy to write programs to read and write XML.
- It is easy to validate XML documents using off-the-shelf software.
- XML document structures and data types can be formally defined using XMLSchema language.
The format incorporates a modular design. Each file would combine the records into an order that corresponds to the type of data to be transmitted. Meet entry records have a specific order. Time standards have another order. When specific record types are not needed, those records can be omitted. Certain fields were declared to be "mandatory" for adequate identification of the data and to preserve unique identifiers.
This specification is provided as an XML schema. This schema uses XML to define what data is required and legal in an XSDIF file. This document is written assuming that the reader is familiar with XML terminology. If you are not familiar with XML terminology, there are many excellent books available. Some suggestions are Professional XML Schemas by Duckett et al from Wrox Press or Professional XML 2nd Edition by Pinnock et al also from Wrox Press. The above information is taken from the XDIF Specification Document.