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  rev. 18/04/2011        

The ManagingEnergy platform introduces a new system to define, store, and manage form data information.

Goals of the Form System

Mechanical survey forms in ManagingEnergy were designed with two primary goals in mind; the fist being ease of use and the second being flexibility.

In terms of ease of use the goal was to enable a user with little or no database experience to rapidly design survey forms which could capture project specific data. In addition the required tools must be readily available and simple to use.

Flexibility was another key consideration. Buildings and the systems they contain are constantly evolving and thus the data collection mechanisms must reflect this evolution. A static survey form is only as good as long as the data it captures remains static.


Survey forms and the information they capture is essentially structured data. Eventually this data needs to be stored in an information system. Historically, vendors have opted to design proprietary formats to meet their specific need. With the advent of the internet there has been a greater requirement to share data between information systems. The Extensible Markup Language (XML), a standard recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), was created to meet this need. XML is human readable text which has been designed to store and transport only information. XML focuses only on what the data is (structure and content) and not what the data looks like (formatting).

The ManagingEnergy survey forms are based on the XML standard and thus can be understood by many other information systems.

XML is simply plain text. In many cases the XML document is self-describing. For example consider the following XML and try to guess what the data represents.

<?xml version="1.0"?>





 <body>Dont forget the meeting this week.</body>


As can be seen in the previous example, XML is simply a tree of elements which have some basic syntactical constraints. One constraint is that all tags must be opened (<tag>) and closed (</tag>).



Elements in XML can be nested in a tree like structure.







In addition elements can contain attributes.


<tag attribute="value">Content</tag>


Revisiting the original example we can also specify the time the note was sent.


<?xml version="1.0"?>

<note sent="11:30 AM">




 <body>Dont forget the meeting this week.</body>


Components of survey form system

There are three distinct components in the ManagingEnergy form system, all of which are based on XML. As a designer of survey forms you need to concern yourself with only one. However, an understanding of the overall processes is beneficial to comprehend the advantages and limitations of this implementation.


XML Schema

An XML Schema is essentially a blue print. Just as a blue print defines the layout and dimensions of a particular building, an XML schema defines the structure and content of a specific type of XML document. An XML schema is used by information systems to understand/enforce the structure of data within an XML document. In terms of ManagingEnergy, a schema has been created which defines the structure of the XML Form definitions.

XML Form Definition

The XML Form Definition is likely the only document you as a user and form designer within ManagingEnergy need to be concerned with. Each survey form will have an associated XML Form definition which defines the structure and layout of the form, the fields it contains the options available. To make a change to a particular form, you simply make the change to the respective XML Form definition.

XSL Transformation (XSLT)

As mentioned prior, XML focuses only on what the data is and not what the data looks like. It is the role of an XSL Transformation to “transform” the XML data into something which can be viewed.

Since XML Schemas and XSL Transforms are WC3 standards we will for the remainder of this manual focus only on the XML Form definitions since they are unique to ManagingEnergy. Information on the other components and standards can be found readily online.



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