Air Force software tools promote interoperability

Vocabulary OneSource Toolset smooths out network glitches

Achieving network interoperability between Defense Department agencies and coalition allies is now a little bit easier thanks to a set of software analysis and exploration tools released in 2010. The Vocabulary OneSource Tool is a suite of tools designed to make different data vocabularies quickly visible, understandable and accessible. The toolset is now available to DOD and NATO users.

The toolset is designed to help developers, integrators, managers and communities of interest to search, navigate, annotate, and map data terms pulled from military standards, community vocabularies, programs of record, and other schemas and data sources, said Amit Daswani, project lead for Vocabulary OneSource at the Air Force’s Command and Control Integration Center in Hampton, Langley Air Force Base, Va. 

OneSource originally began as an in-house tool to help manage data such as Excel spreadsheets. As word of the utility of the tool set spread, other services and organizations such as NATO began requesting the toolset, Daswani told Defense Systems.

The toolset consists of data sources originally written in extensible markup language, portable data file, Word, relational database, resource description framework, and other programs used by the command and control  community.

OneSource contains a variety of data models, vocabularies, reusable components, an architectural framework, data mapping and matching tools, and various export capabilities. Daswani noted that the OneSource system contains a vocabulary of 411,388 common command and control terms and definitions and also serves as a dictionary. He said that the vocabulary lessens the mediation required to build new data exchanges. “The reusable components are the individual words, terms and definitions in the dictionary, systems developers use to facilitate information sharing among systems and various authoritative data sources that feed them,” he said. 

Daswani said that OneSource offers a set of online developer support tools that automate many manual processes commonly used to develop data exchanges in XML. The support tools within OneSource were designed collaboratively to facilitate and cut the costs associated with developing data exchanges between two different C2 systems. “OneSource provides a unique, standard method to define and represent C2 data, simplifying the process of sharing and integrating information from disparate systems,” he wrote. The toolset also shortens interface development time, allowing developers to respond more quickly to shifting warfighter information sharing needs.

The system will be transparent to operational warfighters. But Daswani noted that deployed personnel should notice a reduced time for developing new interfaces. Additionally, he said that battlefield users will have an enhanced ability to discover and use different information sources, to compare, analyze and integrate data and to enhance interoperability with other services, agencies and coalition partners.

Development on OneSource began in 2006. The beta version, OneSource 2.4, was released in early 2010 and the live version is now available on the DOD’s Unclassified but Sensitive IP Router Network (NIPRNet).

As of this posting, OneSource has 332 users in the different services and alliance organizations, Daswani said. There are more than 411 searchable terms, more than user created 40 projects in OneSource, and more than 223 wiki-based communities sharing project information.

The Air Force is hoping to release version 3.0 in the summer of 2011, Daswani said. Since the release of OneSource, he noted that there is interest from DOD users to host the tool on the Secret IP Router Network. He said the project has just acquired several servers and the goal is to install a newer version of the software on the SIPRNet. Another version will remain available on the NIPRNet that can be accessed by international partners such as NATO nations and other open source users.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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