Questioning the travel industry status quo, one blog post at a time

Archive for the ‘Standards’ Category

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Wow, look at all this fuss being made over the IATA NDC (New Distribution Capabilities) initiative. And I was so much looking forward to some R&R over the holidays.

Before we start, you need to know that I have not been a glowing fan of some of the IATA moves over the years, but this initiative—NDC—is one I think is rather insightful and extremely helpful not only for our airline industry but also for consumers, third-party developers, and travel agencies alike.

So let’s start to unravel the fuss with an understanding of what a schema actually is (in this case, a technical development schema) because I am pretty sure that most of the folks making all the fuss have most likely never worked with a technical schema or probably even seen one in real life. (I have attached a piece of a schema below so now they can attest to at least seeing one). A technical schema is a roadmap with very specific directions that, if you follow, will get to where you want to go–technically speaking, that is. In other words, an XSD schema file (XML Schema Definition) defines the structure of an XML message/document to include, for example, elements and attributes (child elements, order and number of elements, data types, and more).

For example, let’s say you are at the zoo and you want to go see the zebras. You will probably start out looking at a map of the zoo. If you follow the path defined for you by the map, you will undoubtedly end up seeing zebras and not those pesky hyenas by mistake. Same concept applies to a technical schema. In our case, a technology developer wants to accomplish certain tasks by connecting to an airline’s internal system to request a seat map, or retrieve a PNR, or make an exchange, etc. The schema simply provides the predictable technical pathway to accomplish the task at hand.  Read the rest of this entry »

I just ordered a wireless TV receiver so I can move my TV to the patio and watch my Miami Heat games uninterrupted. A wireless TV receiver… How does that even work? Well, one reason it works is because there are some fairly standard WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) communications for these sorts of things.

Yet, the whole concept of “standards” continues to dog our industry. A recent example of our trouble with standards was reported on February 22 in the The Beat. United is migrating to a new reservation system, and there will be casualties—namely, Sabre agents won’t be able to sell UA Economy Plus for some undetermined period of time. Why? Well since you’re asking me, I’d be of the opinion that Sabre developed the application specifically to a proprietary backend process within Apollo (United’s current reservation system provider), which as of March 3 will no longer be supporting United’s reservations system. Sabre’s stated reason is that it built United’s capability to sell Economy Plus seats “before industry technology standards existed,” thus making the solution “specifically designed for the reservation system they used at the time.” Some would refer to this development as a “hard-coded” solution. And for those that don’t know, those types of solutions are not flexible or portable. Read the rest of this entry »