Sunday, June 27, 2010

Busy day for the BACnet committee

Yesterday was a very busy day for the BACnet committee, and despite the fact that the plenary session ran only 6 hours instead of the customary 8, in order to give the Objects & Services Working Group more meeting time, we plowed through a LOT of the proposed changes before us. It seems we might be beginning to break through the backlog that's plagued us for years.

After the usual hours-long preliminaries of network configuration (we now share documents via WiFi), introductions, voting rules, liaison reports from other industry areas and organizations around the world, working group reports and more, we started in on the proposed addenda already voted up from the working groups in advance of this meeting.

Although we approved a number of addenda for public review (7 by my notes), they still have to pass some more hurdles before they go for public review this fall so I'll just give a brief summary of what's (probably) coming:

- Clarifying the use of Dates and Times (I have mentioned this before). Like so many things in BACnet, what seemed like a simple task turned out to be exceedingly complex, defining 10 new terms in the glossary and revising an 11th, and 12 pages of proposed changes to the standard. Very little of this changes anything, at least in terms of the committee's intent for implementations, but it should make our intent clearer to BACnet implementers not involved with the committee.

- An addendum with a number of miscellaneous changes. Some of these changes are clarifications; for example, somebody recently discovered that the standard failed to mention explicitly that the variable reflecting the size of an array has a datatype of "Unsigned" (integer). It seems obvious and every implementer so far has figured that out, but this will make it explicit. But there are also more significant changes that should lead to certain performance improvements.

- An addendum with a few miscellaneous changes, mostly clarifications and minor additions to BACnet's physical access control objects.

- Four addenda revising existing conformance tests or adding new ones. This is the leading edge of a LOT of work done over the past decade by BACnet International's BACnet Testing Labs Working Group, BIG-EU's Testing Conformance Task Group, and the committee's Testing and Interoperation Working Group. These groups have reviewed the existing tests in ASHRAE Standard 135.1, "Method of Test for Conformance to BACnet," revised a number, and drafted many news ones. Plus they have applied the experience of the testing labs (B.I.'s BTL and BIG-EU's WSPLab) with the existing, revised and proposed new tests. The end result will be a major extension of the testing standard in the near future.

But as the television pitchman says, "But wait, there's more!" Today is dedicated to working group meetings, but we have a half-day plenary session tomorrow in which we expect to approve more material for public review.

A reminder to the BACneteers here in Albuquerque reading this blog posting: you should really be reading RK-005-15 (Meeting Updates/Plenary folder) instead -- you will not have time in the meeting tomorrow to read this 136-page tome from the Alarm Summit. Read it today, and bring your comments for discussion tomorrow.

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