ITIS (an explanation of GBIF's data integration activities)

Meredith Lane mlane at GBIF.ORG
Thu Jun 24 17:18:34 CDT 2004

Chris Lyal wrote:

Although the Napier schema is perhaps daunting it is part of a concerted
effort to make datasets of many different types interoperable.  If one
is interested only in querying databases of names then an approach such
as Rod outlines may well work, although the multiplicity of formats will
create problems.

Rod Page wrote:

    Chris makes some good points, but I think the Napier schema serves a
    fairly limited purpose -- interchange between taxonomic databases. It
    serves the community of database developers, not database users.


    I regard the Napier schema as "heavy" -- what I'm
    arguing is that we need a "light" schema so that databases like ITIS,
    GenBank, IPNI, Index Fungorum, uBio, etc. can return useful
    information easily.

It seems to me that Chris has already answered Rod --- proper
interoperability will make the easy return of useful information
possible --- thus serving both user and developer.  And, it is GBIF's
experience (even in its very young life, it has gained experience), from
the use of DiGIR/Darwin Core and BioCASe/ABCD (which is "heavier") that
the latter is in the long run much more useful and helpful to the
database user (as well as developer).

It is easier in the long run to build the "heavy" version --- nobody has
to fill in all the fields, just the minimum core data. Data served that
way is coming through what is essentially the "light" version. But, if a
developer has a much richer data set, then those data can also be
represented, and accessed by the user.

The advantages are several, but perhaps most important is the difference
in maintenance:  By building a "light" version first, then that has to
be maintained and updated while the "heavy" one is being developed and
then you've got two standards that have to be maintained (which is what
is happening now with DiGIR and BioCASe).
Meredith A. Lane, PhD
PR & Scientific Liaison
GBIF Secretariat
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
mlane at <>

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