OMG's Meta-Data Exchange Spec to Be Voted On

Today at the Object Management Group's (OMG's) technical meeting held here, a team of vendors plan to submit for approval the XML Metadata Interface (XMI) specification that aims to facilitate the sharing of meta data between tools and repositories.

The XMI specification will be submitted to OMG's Object Analysis and Design task force today, according to Sridhar Iyengar, object evangelist at OMG member Unisys Corp., in Mission Viejo, California. If the specification passes this group, it will be voted on by the OMG's Architectural Board, and subsequently by all OMG members for final approval, which is expected within eight to 10 weeks.

XMI unites the Extensible Markup Language (XML) with the OMG's Universal Markup Language (UML) and Meta Object Facility (MOF) so meta data can be described in UML, stored in MOF, and exchanged among tools and repositories via XML, according to OMG officials.

Because XMI has some significant momentum behind it -- companies including IBM Corp., Unisys, Oracle Corp., and Platinum Technology Inc. are part of the team that developed the specification, and more than a dozen other vendors have voiced support for it -- Iyengar expects the technology will have no problem getting approval.

Despite this industry support, Iyengar noted that one heavyweight missing from the XMI fan club is Microsoft Corp., which chose instead to come up with its own specification for the interchange of meta data. Microsoft has turned over this competing specification, called the XML Interchange Facility (XIF), to the Meta Data Coalition, which lists a number of the same members as the OMG's roster, including Unisys.

Instead of fueling competing efforts, Iyengar suggested that the OMG and Meta Data Coalition work together on developments that would help users more easily exchange meta data, adding that the OMG would be very open to such an arrangement. Yet this would mean that Microsoft, which is a member of the OMG but has kept its participation in the group to a bare minimum, would share information and work with some of its rivals -- as Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle -- who are pillars of the OMG community. The possibility of this cooperation happening is slight, Iyengar predicted.

In the absence of cooperation among the camps, Iyengar said companies such as Unisys will work on bridging technology to ensure that XMI-based meta data can be exchanged with meta data using the XIF specification.

The Object Management Group, in Framingham, Massachusetts, can be reached at Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at Unisys Corp., in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, can be reached at