We are having an important, constructive debate within the ASTM E57.04 Data Interoperability subcommittee concerning the compliance of an E57 file to the approved standard. This topic has come up for a couple of reasons. One is the fact that the standard supports the use of extensions and another is the issue of a company simply not supporting a particular data type that is included in the standard – images would be an example of the latter.
The issue that we are trying to avoid is the classic”multi-flavor” syndrome that we see with so many standards, like LandXML. On the one hand with E57 each company is free to add whatever extensions they need to support their custom data requirements, but how should a reader discover this, and what if the reader’s native format does not have the ability to make use of the additional data types?
The subcommittee wants to be able to certify that readers/writers are compliant with the standard. The question is how to define compliance. Unfortunately this is the price that we have to pay for flexibility, but we would appreciate any thoughts that readers may have on how best to resolve these issues.