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What is OII?

The objective of the European Commission's Open Information Interchange (OII) service is to provide all market actors -- including standards and specification developers, product and service providers, and end-users of these products and services -- with an overview of existing and emerging standards and industry specifications designed to facilitate the exchange of information in electronic form.

To meet this objective, the OII team have produced a set of interlinking publications, addressing the OII standards and specifications from the different perspectives and requirements of its target audiences. The focus point of the OII initiative is the comprehensive listing of published standards provided in the OII Standards and Specifications List. This list is complemented by:

If you need to find information about a standard you have already heard of the fully cross-referenced index, which lists the acronyms of standards as well as their title, will provide a useful starting point.

If you are unsure of which standards may be applicable, the categories provided in the table of contents for the OII Standards and Specifications List will show you where to find the information you need.

If you are interested in which standards are used by a specific user community you can either use the Application-specific Standards section of theOII Standards and Specifications List or the OII Guides to the ways in which standards are used to provide particular types of services.

If you want to find out about the activities of a particular standards body then the OII Fora Listis the place to start. Recent activities of specific fora are covered in our series of OII Conference Reports, in our Monthly Reports on Standards and Specifications Activity and in the OII Bi-Monthly Reports on Electronic Commerce Interoperability.

The Open Information Interchange service started as part of the European Commission DG XIII'sIMPACT 2 programme. As a result of favourable market response, it is being continued underINFO 2000, the Commission's multi-annual programme for stimulating the development of the European multimedia content industry and encouraging the use of multimedia content in the emerging information society, which was formally launched in May 1996.

Standards for the structuring and presentation of data are essential to facilitate the exchange and re-use of information in electronic form within the multimedia industry. In such a new and dynamic area, industry specifications are also emerging as a complement to, and alongside, formal standards. The OII service is designed to lead to a better understanding in the content industries of the benefits of applying standards, and thereby enable considerable improvements in the exploitation, accessibility, maintenance and re-use of multimedia content.

The OII arena potentially covers an extremely wide spectrum -- from document structure and related information content, and its presentation, on the one hand, to the transfer of information between different computer platforms on the other. A document in the OII context can range from a simple text message to a multi-format, multimedia, composite structure.

It is recognised that any categorization of the material provided in the OII Standards and Specifications List is inherently limited, and potentially artificial. Many formal standards and publicly available specifications do, in fact, have a scope which ranges over individual categories. They also overlap with one another in varying degrees. Moreover, given the speed of development in the OII domain, it is extremely difficult to provide information which is uniformly up-to-date, comprehensive or, indeed, exhaustive.

Precisely because of this, however, it is felt that an OII Standards and Specification List will, in spite of its limitations, prove to be a useful source of reference information for standards developers, product and service providers, as well as for the end users of these products and services.

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This information set on OII standards is maintained by Martin Bryan of The SGML Centre and Man-Sze Li of IC Focus on behalf ofEuropean Commission DGXIII/E.

File last updated: January 1998

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