This blog is posted by Steven Vale, to keep the wider GSIM community, and anyone else that is interested, up to date on the progress during the workshop. Please feel free to add comments here, or on the LinkedIn group "Business Architecture in Statistics"
Sunday 16th September
Most people arrived today, despite some additional challenges due to engineering works on the railways. We had an enjoyable evening catching up with colleagues who have mostly just been voices on the other end of the telephone at all sorts of strange hours over the last few months. The 4 GSIM Task Teams have successfully risen to the challenge of producing excellent outputs, working remotely across many time zones, in a very short period of time. Everyone is looking forward to seeing how the results of these teams can be integrated into a coherent package over the course of the coming week. The most pressing challenge for some of our long-haul colleagues, though, is to get a good nights sleep, and try to beat the jet-lag.
Monday 17th September
The first challenge today was to try to work out how to buy tickets for the tram ride to Statistics Netherlands - not easy, but we managed in the end. On behalf of our host organisation, Mr Gosse van der Veen, Director General of Statistics Netherlands, welcomed us and wished us success in our discussions. We presented him with a framed set of the GSIM puzzle pieces (thanks Thérèse for making that!).
Then it was down to work - we had a few short presentations where different people outlined their ideas for enhancing and better explaining GSIM. However the main presentations of the day were from each of the 4 Task Teams, outlining the results of their work, and answering questions from other participants. The discussions were lively, and there are points which will need further clarification over the next few days, but my overall impression is that we can produce a coherent model from these components. We finished the day with a short presentation from the modelling team, who have supported the 4 task teams and helped them turn their ideas into formal models with a fairly high degree of consistency. We had a useful discussion on how to make sure GSIM is extendible to support practical implementations in different organisations, and how to share extensions and promote best practices within an "open source" type of community.
Several points were deliberately cut short in the formal meeting, to be resumed in a more relaxed environment this evening - it could be a late night!
Tuesday 18th September
As predicted, there were some very intensive modelling discussions over dinner last night. Not everything was resolved, but at least solutions look likely over the next few days.
Today was the first chance for the Task Teams to really get to grips with how their parts of the model fit together. Some discussions were relatively easy, but others, particularly the one between the conceptual and information teams, were more challenging. Agreement on how to model the management of hierarchical classification systems seems to be the key to resolving their outstanding issues.
Special mention should be made of Tim Dunstan, who joined us for the day by Webex from Canada, which meant a 3am start for him. This is a typical example of the dedication that the Task Team members have shown over the last few months.
We ended the afternoon with a discussion on the documentation of GSIM, and particularly how to represent it graphically. The previous diagrams that suggested a hierarchical classification of information objects are out, a they were felt to be more relevant to the organisation of the GSIM development work than the dissemination of the outputs. The challenge for this evening is to try to find a good replacement as the "image" of GSIM.
Wednesday 19th September
More reconciling of models and objects today, some intense discussions but ultimately agreement. The quote of the day was "this relationship, even though it is correct, is wrong!"
Other progress today included elaborating a use case from Statistics Canada that focuses on production objects, and finalising the presentation to be given to Statistics Netherlands staff tomorrow.
Now that the modelling issues have largely been resolved (at least for version 0.8 of GSIM), the focus is turning more towards documentation of the objects, definitions, relationships, links to other standards etc. Getting all this down on paper on a coherent way, ready for the release of GSIM v0.8 will be quite a challenge!
Thursday 20th September
The main event this morning was a presentation to staff from Statistics Netherlands on the context, development and use of GSIM. The audience seemed happy, and asked some excellent questions.
Meanwhile, most of the team were busy with documentation of their parts of GSIM. This has been going on all day, despite a number of technical challenges. Real progress has been made, but people are starting to look tired. We agreed to carry on for another hour or so, in the office, then move back to the hotel, where some people are planning to do a few more hours.
We still have quite a lot to do before the end of the Workshop tomorrow, but it is looking increasingly likely that we can meet our target.
Friday 21st September
The Workshop is over, and we are getting remarks about how tired we all look. It has been intense, we have overcome some major challenges and disagreements, and now have a GSIM that is much stronger. The documentation is more or less finished as far as the task teams are concerned, it is now down to Thérèse, the project manager, to stitch it all together into a coherent package, ready to release for public comment in about one week. This will not be an easy task! Watch the METIS Wiki home page and the "Business Architecture in Statistics" LinkedIn group for anouncements.
We assessed GSIM as it currently stands, against the original design principles. It stands up well. Particular strengths are platform independence and support for current and new ways of producing statistics. The main area for improvement is the ease of understanding by non-specialists, so now it is over to the new task teams working on communication and developing a user guide, to see if they can find ways to improve the accessibility of GSIM to a wider audience.