Featured field and capability
Model-Based Systems Engineering
Effective communication requires people to speak the same – or at least a similar – language. The same is true for software, especially when understanding the meaning of the data stored within the software. As our world is becoming increasingly data-intensive, the importance of building interoperable software applications is widely accepted. However, due to various issues, such as vendor lock-in, effective “communication” between software is difficult to achieve, as different software continues to “speak” different languages. At Semmtech, we have developed an application to help software understand one another better: the Blueprints Library Manager (BPL).
Our Blueprint Library Manager is the newest addition to our Laces suite, which allows users to create and manage their own Blueprints. Blueprints are information models which explain how data is (to be) captured (logical model) and what the captured data means (semantic model). Unlike our other two Library Manager tools (Specifications Library Manager and Object Type Library/Reference Data Library Manager), which focus on capturing the content, the BPL focuses on capturing (or describing) the semantics and logic behind the content. This combination is what allows the software to interpret data as well as allowing software to register data properly. You could say that a Blueprint is a glue that binds the semantic model and the logical model together.
Explicitly capturing the semantics of a data model allows the software to understand what the data means and how different instances of data are related to each other to create a better understanding of the dataset as a whole. We can explicitly manage what semantics are used within our data through Blueprints. This means that one of the functions our BPL has is to create top ontologies for your datasets. In other words, a Blueprint defines what elements there are in a dataset, what relations there are between such elements, and how these can interact
For example, a Blueprint can identify that instance data can be either of a ‘person’ or a ‘car’ type and that ‘person’ can be related to ‘car’ by a relation configured as ‘drives.’ Applying this Blueprint to a dataset regarding cars and their drivers, we can use these semantics to help software understand that “Donald” is an instance of ‘person,’ that “Volkswagen Beetle 313” is an instance of ‘car’ and that “Donald” ‘drives’ “Volkswagen Beetle 313”.
Within a Blueprint, we can also explicitly capture how data in our dataset will be processed by configuring the logical model. A Blueprint helps us define the different ‘shapes’ information elements that are built. A shape is a set of conditions a concept (information element) must meet. Returning to our dataset on cars and their drivers, we can explicitly model that the name “Donald” is to be registered as an ‘rdf:langstring’, and that the day on which Donald purchased his car is to be registered as ‘date’ (i.e., DDMMYYYY). This logical model can help software process the content of the instance data itself, as well as ensure software register data correctly (i.e., conform to the Blueprint).
Blueprints are a useful tool for creating and managing Information Architecture. As the BPL is focused on user-friendliness and allows domain experts to configure their own information models easily, many users can use the Blueprint Library Manager for various purposes.
Similar or identical information can be spread across different applications when dealing with a large IT landscape. To transfer this information from one application to another to ensure a single form of truth, application integrations and data transformations are hard to ignore. By creating a Blueprint for the entire IT landscape, a fixed information model for the data can be created, which can create a cohesive understanding of the data between the various applications – simplifying configurations of labor-intensive integrations. For example, ensuring how data is to be transferred between your design, maintenance, and project planning software.
When creating new (tailor-made) applications for your data sets that serve a specific purpose, Blueprints allow users to configure how the application is to approach their data – how to process and how to interpret the data. As the Blueprint can be stored or transformed into various programming languages, this approach can be used as a head-start when creating new applications for your (existing) datasets.
As with giving new applications a quick start when programming, Blueprints can also be utilized to configure low-code (or no-code) applications. Meaning that if your use case or application landscape requires data to be structured in a particular way, you can use the BPL to configure a Blueprint to be then encapsulated by the low-code applications – quickening the often laborious task of starting up a low-code application environment. For example, kick-starting a collaborative online environment for a large construction project.
The added benefit to the Blueprints created in our BPL is that these can be published as Linked Data – meaning that Blueprints can link to one other to create a standardized mapping between different Blueprints. This can be beneficial when having to create data transformations or allow different organizations access to a published Blueprint that dictates how instance data is to be shared between the organizations.
Feel free to contact Semmtech with questions regarding our Blueprint Library Manager or any other product in our Laces suite. We are happy to help work out how our software can improve the data management across your applications tailored to your specific use case. We offer consultancy to help you with your implementation and projects. Still, we also offer plenty of training, workshops, and support to ensure you can manage your data within your own team!