Monday, 31 August 2009

Part 1 update - what has changed

Marcus Tennant has produced an excellent summary of the changes between the latest draft of the updated S88 Part 1 standard and the original.
It must have taken him a lot of time and I have no problem with it.
I do however have a problem with the proposed update itself.
Here is a small example, it shows the proposed changes to the physical model.

Now as far as I am comcerned, the original version, on the left, is elegant and clear whilst the update is frankly a mess.
And the value added is zero.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

How do standards evolve?

I was thinking again about the S88 standard and how it is developing, and the results that we are seeing. That led me to wonder, how do standards evolve?
So I thought that some research was needed. And I have searched a lot, and one noticeable thing about the results on various search engines is the association of standards with law.
Things like metric and imperial, Whitworth and so on are measurement systems and physical and science based. Even if they started with the distance between Napoleon's nose and his finger tip, allegedly. And so De facto standards arrived. Eventually they became consistent, via such thing as the System International (Three nations have not officially adopted the International System of Units as their primary or sole system of measurement: Liberia, Burma and the United States.)
Others like ASCII and perhaps html are language interpretations.
What about Fieldbus or, say Betamax versus VHS ?
Here, competitive companies produced competing standards, and the result became De facto standard.
Some such as XML, maybe UML are somewhere between De Facto and Science based - or at least they involve a lot of meetings.
When we come to Automation is it apparent that the ISA (For me still the Instrument Society of America) that now appears to be the leader in setting the standard.
But I actually think that it is missing the competitive element. I could argue that they should leave the domain alone until a De facto standard arrives!