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Re: [school-discuss] ZIS and THAT

On Wed, 23 Jan 2002, Felipe Bergo wrote:

> 1. it presents data models for curricula, gradebook and some other 
>    services. Ok, they're an instance of XML, and that's good.
>    So the job would be mostly adapt existing applications - or write
>    new ones - that understand the data model there.
>    the ZIS server will store everything and the kitchen sink, and HTTPS
>    will be used to move data from the ZIS server to the non-ZIS-server
>    nodes.

This is not quite accurate.  The ZIS server doesn't "store" anything.  It
just passes messages back and forth between applications.  A school
district, for example, might be using Chancery as it's SIS system.
Chancery connects to the ZIS server and registers itself as providing all
of the student information data (demographics, attendance, marks).  If
Follet is the library program, Follett will connect and register itself as
the Provider of library data (patron overdues, issues, etc.).  The
students have a third application which they run on their workstations.
This application requires the students to enter their password and then
connects to the ZIS server to get marks, overdues, etc for that student.
The ZIS server passes these messages on to the Chancery and Follett
programs which send their messages back to the ZIS server, and then from
there back to the student application.  None of the three applications
talk directly to each other, they all send messages through the ZIS

> 2. Who is backing this specification ? Schools, corporations,
>    standards organizations (ISO, IETF) or a mix of them ?
>    If this is backed by corporations only (er.. MS), how screwed
>    are we if we finish our implementation and the specification-holder
>    launches, say, SIF 2.0 which is completely incompatible with the
>    previous one ?
>    (this is a regular MS practice. MS offers the specification of the
>     .DOC format. When you happily finishes implementing it you
>     notice that several files generated by word don't fit the spec,
>     they tried something similar with kerberos not too long ago too)
> 3. Can it be RFC-ized ? For safety.
> 4. There aren't any patents on this whole thing, riiight ?

This is a very good question.  Membership in SIF costs anywhere from
$1,000 to $27,000 depending on your gross revenue.  It's altogether
possible that developing an application using the SIF spec when you aren't
a SIF member is a no-no.  Can somebody a little closer to SIF than I check
on this?

I think Microsoft hijacking the protocol is unlikely.  There are a lot of
other players involved here, and hopefully MS isn't the only company to
provide the ZIS server.  MS School wouldn't be too far down the road.  :)