Bill MacKenty

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Schools Interoperability Framework

Posted in Educational Tech Design on 24 - October 2009 at 01:29 AM (14 years ago). 204 views.

Picked this up from Chris Dawson’s excellent blog. 

From wikipedia:

The Schools Interoperability Framework, Systems Interoperability Framework(UK), or SIF, is a data sharing open specification for academic institutions from kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12). Until recently, it has been used primarily in the United States alone; however, it is increasingly being implemented in Australia, the UK, India and elsewhere.

The specification is composed of two parts: an XML specification for modeling educational data, and a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) specification for sharing that data between institutions.

SIF is not a product, but an industry initiative that enables diverse applications to interact and share data. As of March 2007, SIF is estimated to have been used in more than 48 states and 6 countries, supporting five million students.[1]

The specification is actively maintained by its specification body, the Schools Interoperability Framework Association.

How SIF works

Rather than have each application vendor try to set up a separate connection to every other application, SIF has defined the set of rules and definitions to share data within a “SIF Zone”—a logical grouping of applications in which software application agents communicate with each other through a central communication point. Zones are managed by a piece of software called a Zone Integration Server (ZIS). A single ZIS can manage multiple Zones.

Data travels between applications as a series of standardized messages, queries, and events written in XML and sent using Internet protocols. The SIF specification defines such events and the “choreography” that allows data to move back and forth between the applications.

SIF Agents are pieces of software that exist either internal to an application or installed next to it. The SIF Agents function as extensions of each application and serve as the intermediary between the software application and the SIF Zone. The ZIS keeps track of the Agents registered in the Zone and manages transactions between Agents, enabling them to provide data and respond to requests. The ZIS controls all access, routing, and security within the system. Standardization of the behavior of the Agents and ZIS means that SIF can add standard functionality to a Zone by simply adding SIF-enabled applications over time.